Roberto Carlos Lange has been making music under his Helado Negro moniker since 2006, crafting two albums and several EPs that each share roots in the dance beats and sultry heat of his South Florida upbringing, but branch off to explore synthesized sound, Latin funk, folk, and even atmospheric tones. His third LP, Invisible Life (out March 5 on Asthmatic Kitty Records), seems almost a survey of the past seven years’ work. At moments it’s sparse then lush, Spanish then English. Muffled beats build swirling rhythms and chop them up. It’s a dance record streaming from the bottom of the Atlantic, and Roberto’s conversational croon keeps it all anchored.
I meet up with Helado Negro the day after winter storm Nemo has hit Brooklyn. Every surface is blanketed in snow, and getting around requires penguin-like shuffling over patches of ice that were once sidewalks. My teeth are chattering, but Lange steps out onto the stoop of his Crown Heights apartment building in a T-shirt and socks, seemingly unaffected by the cold. He welcomes photographer Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez and me inside the apartment he’s shared with his visual artist wife since for the last five years with a warm smile and handshake.
The front door opens into a cozy living room turned DIY studio. The bright sun bouncing off the snow outside is filtered through heavy curtains; seating is sparse, and every surface, including the walls, has been taken over by turntables, small instruments, and synths, records, cables, and posters from past gigs. “This is my studio,” he tells us. “This is where I made the most recent record, Invisible Life. I did this record last year with my friend Juliana Barwick—the OMBRE record; I did that in here. I mixed one of the Bear in Heaven records here, worked on the Savath y Savalas record here…countless things.”
It’s the perfect command center for someone like Lange, who is never not making music. “[Music] is what I do, and I need a studio,” he says. “It’s the easiest thing I can accomplish with the space that I have.”