“I make music so I can bury my own world inside of it, and when other people listen to it, they have their own world that they build from it,” said Roberto Carlos Lange. “And I like that but I know what it is for me. And it’s not necessary for me to like tell everyone every nook and cranny of what that world is like.”
Lange’s imagination is a renewable resource of musical ideas. Since the early 2000s, he’s been releasing music under various names. As curious as he is prolific, he’s put out everything between noise collages to beautiful atmospheric instrumentals that would easily fit on a playlist alongside Aphex Twin and Brian Eno. He may be best known for Helado Negro, the project that’s become the outlet for his most lyrically driven songs. He’s a master of surreal textures and dreamy, ambiguous themes.
The latest Helado Negro record, “This Is How You Smile,” is a poetic collection of songs that re-examine the present through memories and reflections of the past — including the complex relationships between immigrant parents and their children.
“I think the thing that separates Helado Negro is my singing … whether I have instrumental songs, the voice becomes some kind of presence,” he said.
It represents a stage in Lange’s songwriting showing a much higher confidence in his own voice from a presence felt to an almost-tactile force that arrangements are now built around. “I think there was a moment after [Helado Negro’s 2016 release] ‘Private Energy’ where I felt, ‘OK, this is my voice.’ There was an opportunity to focus on arrangements that could be a part of the voice, and not so much the voice embedded into the music, like another instrument.”