Helado Negro

Canta Lechuza

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Roberto Carlos Lange recorded his second Helado Negro album, Canta Lechuza, holed up in a rural Connecticut cabin, but it sounds like it could have been made in an orbiting space station for all that it has in common with where it was made. Actually, that would be a fitting explanation for the album’s playful, peaceful, and decidedly insular sound, which is a drastic change from the expansive collaborations of Helado Negro's debut Awe Owe; if anything, it has more in common with Asthmatic Kitty's library music series than their regular output. In splendid isolation with an arsenal of loops, samples, drum machines, live instruments, and synths at his disposal, Lange flexed his muscles as a sound-shaper, and the sonic trickery that decorated Awe Owe is Canta Lechuza's focus. Sounds drift, hover, and cruise from one stereo channel to another, making songs like “Globitos,” “Regresa,” and “20 Dia” ideal headphone listening. Meanwhile, the hypnotic pulse of “El Oeste” has more in common with Broadcast than Helado Negro's previous work, and “Oreja de Arena” offers a tropical twist on space age bachelor pad music. However, Lange doesn’t completely abandon his pop roots; a playful melody flits across “Obara Uno” when listeners are least expecting it, and “Lechuguilla”'s cheery sparkle and “Calculas”'s bounce are just as charming as anything from Awe Owe, despite sounding radically different from that album. Mysterious and subtly beguiling, Canta Lechuza begs to be listened to in the condition in which it was made: solitude.

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