Summery in an unexpected way befitting a project whose name translates to "black ice cream," Awe Owe puts folk, jazz, electronic, and pop music through a distinctly Latin filter, reflecting Helado Negro main man Roberto Carlos Lange's Ecuadorian heritage and Miami upbringing. Lange is also a member of Savath & Savalas, joining that group for their 2009 album Llama, and both projects combine tradition with experimentalism in a way that sets off both sides of their sound -- and since Savath & Savalas and Prefuse 73's Guillermo Scott Herren appear here as well, it's easy to see Helado Negro as a part of an extended collaboration between him and Lange. However, Awe Owe has its own nimble yet intimate approach, flitting from the breezy, acoustic album-opener "Venceremos" to "Espuma Negra"'s hazy strumming to "I Wish"'s electronics and tumbling drums with an organic flow. Helado Negro also ranges from more live-sounding songs like the surreal ballad "Dos Sueños" to wispily layered creations such as "Dahum," which builds from a simple drum loop into something as transporting as anything by Panda Bear or El Guincho. Lange and company sound just as strong with either approach: "Awe," an elaborate tour through a jungle of playful keyboards and hypnotic percussion, and "Deja," the album's darkly strummed closer, couldn't be more different, but they're both standouts. Even though Helado Negro never really repeats itself, Awe Owe holds together wonderfully, offering an immediately engaging listening experience that only gets richer with each listen.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares