The first thing you notice at an Helado Negro show is the two human-size blobs dancing on stage. Known as the Tinsel Mammals and clad head to toe in tinsel, they are professional dancers wearing costumes designed to make them look like pom poms. Roberto Carlos Lange - the songwriter and brains behind Helado Negro - says the purpose of the Tinsel Mammals is to disarm the audience and create a sense of mystery and anticipation. They are crucial to his performance, but he acknowledges that they can be a little goofy too.
Born in the Fort Lauderdale area to Ecuadorian parents, Lange is a one-man-show (not counting the Tinsel Mammals) who sings and makes electronic music using a Music Production Controller. He manipulates programmed beats, samples, and synth riffs to create spacey lounge music. It's a thoroughly modern sound that somehow stays rooted in the Latino music of Lange's youth. Imagine Panda Bear singing in Spanish or a cumbia Ariel Pink song and you might get a sense of what this offbeat music sounds like.
Helado Negro will be stopping through Charlotte on October 21st for a set at McColl Center for Art + Innovation. It's the next event in the indomitable New Frequencies series, and like the sets earlier this year, it promises to be a singular night of mind-expanding music. Bo White and Brett Green's High Cube project will open the show...and yes, the Tinsel Mammals will be there too.
Cream Puff Records caught up with Roberto by phone while he was on tour with Sylvan Esso last month. We talked about his Ecuadorian roots and why the visual element of his show is just as important as the music.
Helado Negro performs at McColl Center for Art + Innovation on Saturday, October 21st. High Cube is the opener. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.