Helado Negro’s breakthrough 2016 album ‘Private Energy‘ will be released on May 5 in expanded form via New York label RVNG Intl. The album will be released on vinyl for the first time alongside new CD and newly remastered digital editions. ‘Private Energy (Expanded)‘ also includes brand new versions of the tracks “Young, Latin & Proud,” “Transmission Listen” and “Runaround.”
Exploring the expressivity within intense states of being, Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, ‘Private Energy‘ is an engrossing statement achieved through personal and political avant pop music.
‘Private Energy‘ carves a deep groove through the electronic music landscape, challenging to best Brooklyn-based artist Roberto Carlos Lange’s previous accomplishments under the Helado Negro moniker. Half a decade and half a dozen albums since Helado Negro’s 2009 debut album ‘Awe Owe,’ Lange has cultivated an untraditional approach to songcraft that places his voice on an adventurous musical impulse without shying from familiar pop appreciation.
The hymn of ‘Private Energy‘ initially sounded in 2014 while Lange absorbed accounts of the unjust death of Michael Brown and felt a sharpened sense of vulnerability and anger as a minority. Lange’s creative drive veered toward catharsis – he sought to make music that would protect as a form of protest. The music of ‘Private Energy‘ was shaped to demarcate the artist’s pride of being, preserving and persevering, and celebrating, as Lange puts it, “my brownness, my Latinidad.”
For the marginalized, the personal is always political. This truth is not exploited by Lange but used as a platform to examine fluidity in love and amongst various genders. Singing “porque soy una mujer, porque sigo siendo tu hombre”, (“because I’m a woman, because I’m still your man”), on ‘Private Energy‘’s opening track “Tartamudo,” Lange subverts the expectations of the “Latino man,” embracing instead a genderless expression of affection and sexuality. And yet the title “Tartamudo” means to stutter; Lange acknowledges the challenge of articulating one’s progressive ideals and the personal demands of stewarding the Helado Negro project.
“Transmission Listen” is another exemplary selection from ‘Private Energy,’ a song so effortlessly tuneful and seductive it sounds beamed in from the radio waves of an outer world. Or alternately, an inner world. Speckled and reverberant, it’s a love song as much as a purely joyful sonic experience. “Young, Latin, and Proud” and “It’s My Brown Skin” are prideful lyrically but complicated texturally, fusing restrained synthesizer voicings with sparse percussion and an interpolation of rhythmic tones. Here, as elsewhere, though, Lange’s distinct voice is the spine of the music’s ambulatory energy.
Though Helado Negro is essentially a solo project, the contributors to ‘Private Energy‘ were numerous, demonstrating Lange’s compassion for community and collaboration. In line, the lyrics to “It’s My Brown Skin” work as a central tenet of ‘Private Energy‘ and an intimate invitation to the varied cast involved and surrounding. Identity is celebrated as a possible personal shelter of sorts, yet complicated and humbly inclusive within abstract territories – i.e. the real and surreal worlds, inhabited by fellow humans and those that don’t identify as human alike.
“My brown me is the shade that’s just for me / I’m never not missing anything but me, “the song’s lyrics state, offering insight into the infinite possible variations for individuality and self-invention that animates the music and ethos of ‘Private Energy.’
UPCOMING HELADO NEGRO TOUR DATES
March 29 – Guadalajara, Mexico @ Teatro Estudio Cavaret *
April 26 – San Francisco, CA @ San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
May 5 – New York, NY @ Arts Brookfield
May 8 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada **
May 9 – Houston, TX @ Walter’s Downtown **
May 10 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk **
May 15 – Phoenix, AZ @ CALA Crossfade Lab – The Crescent Ballroom
August 4 – Katowice, Poland @ OFF Festival
September 15 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater ***
September 16 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE ***
September 17 – Detroit, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom ***
September 19 – Columbus, OH @ Express Live! ***
September 20 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues ***
September 21 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s ***
September 22 – Nashville, TN @ Ryman Auditorium ***
September 23 – Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room – Old National Centre ***
September 25 – Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note ***
September 26 – Kansas City, MO @ CrossroadsKC ***
September 28 – Lousville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom ***
September 29 – Asheville, NC @ ExploreAsheville.com Arena ***
September 30 – Pittsboro, NC @ Shakori Hills ***
* Supporting Nicolas Jaar
** Supporting Mitski
*** Supporting Sylvan Esso