Carlos Lange grew up in South Florida, after his parents emigrated from
Ecuador. While growing up, he took in all the local flavors of music, much of
it bearing a strong Latin American influence. Helado Negro, the project that
Lange leads with an ever-changing cast of support players, uses some of this
early influence as its foundation. But this is no dance party disc, with exotic
influences dumped over programmed beats and sanitized.
Awe Owe sounds groovy albeit in
a quiet, reserved manner. The first three songs have acoustic guitar as their
main instrument. Sometimes marimba is added (“Venceremos”), other times that
guitar sounds a bit percussive as it frames a dreamy texture (“Espuma Negra”).
Midway through the album, that dreamlike quality transforms into full blown
space rock with a couple short interludes. Clarinets also pop up in the
strangest places, sometimes with heavy flanging (“I Wish”).
different vocalists are credited, including producer Guillermo Scott Herren and
Jon Philpot (of Bear in Heaven). It’s not clear who sings where, but all the
lyrics are sung in Lange’s native tongue, in an understated way that sounds
closer to Beck than anyone else. (Helado Negro’s press kit compares Lange’s voice
to Red Crayola’s Mayo Thompson, and true or not, that speaks to Lange’s
expansive musical knowledge.) The casual performance makes the need for a
translation completely unnecessary. Awe
Owe is one of those albums might not be summarized easily, but the effect
it has is immediate and irresistible.
Standout Tracks: “Venceremos,”
“Dos Suenos” MIKE SHANLEY