- 09 Feb 24
Chilled vibes from electro-acoustic outsider. 7/10
It’s hard work sounding as laid-back as electro-composer and furtive folkie Roberto Carlos Lange, better known as Helado Negro, does throughout his wonderful eighth studio album. Balmy and blissful, PHASOR invites the listener to take a walk on the mild side. In the process Lange achieves a near miracle in delivering an LP that serves up 15 flavours of wistful without ever teetering on twee.
PHASOR is ferociously feel-good, imparting a bittersweet ache that lingers. Fuelled by acoustic guitar and Spanish vocals, opener ‘LFO (Lupe Finds Oliveros)’ is a ditty that doubles as a valentine to two heroes of this Florida-raised son of Ecuadorian immigrants.
“Lupe” is Lupe Lopez, a Mexican-American technician who built amplifiers for Fender in the ’50s (they are coveted to this day). “Oliveros” meanwhile refers to Pauline Oliveros, the post-war experimental music composer who coined the concept of “deep listening”, which involves absorbing not only a piece of music, but also background noises and the wider ambience of your environment.
The track is a jumping-off point for a project that argues fiercely that we should take life a little less seriously (Lang has spoken about the “ambient stress” of “endless scrolling” on our phones).
Stuttering synths and balmy grooves blend wonderfully on ‘I Just Want To Wake Up With You’, while the bass-fuelled ‘Echo Tricks Me’ is medicated euphoria captured on vinyl. The beautifully soothing affair finally concludes with ‘Es Una Fantasia’. The strumming number, again performed in Spanish, confirms Lange – whose stage name translates as “Black Ice Cream” – as king of the wonky comedown.