Album review: Helado Negro “The Invisible Life”

by Caile Michelle

Like secret white-sand beaches, comes the cobra-enchanted jams of Helado Negro with his ten track LP The Invisible Life dropping on March 5th.

According to his label, Asthmatic Kitty, “…pounding bass beats from passing cars…” is one of the influences on Helado Negro’s sound, which is such a pretty accurate description of the atmosphere created here.

This sound strips the snows away and manifests itself on narrow urban streets in the mid-afternoon, leaning languidly in doorways, with paint flaking off concrete buildings, while dogs and palm trees sway, by water somewhere warm enough to swim in. Colors of red, turquoise, yellow, gold swirl around.

These tracks are smooth, sensual, full of  driving funky bass lines replete with perfect beats and beautiful soaring ambient pictures, grooves you can tell only come from a place of pure internal rhythm. Instrumentals that call to mind a Latino fairy-tale version of Nightmares on Wax, Helado Negro brings you into jams that are at once gossamer and gritty.

Invisible World being his first English language offering, the Brooklyn-based artist has had his hand in everything from a musical collaborations  (notably OMBRE with Julianna Barwick, another textural Asthmatic Kitty artist), to creating animated film scores, to producing an album in 2010 that went on to be named as Best New Album by Pitchfork.

That other listeners have written of Helado Negro’s music by saying that “it’s the sound of a tender moment, distorted by memory, time, and a confluence of different cultures…” (KUT.org) will give you an idea of what you’re in for here.

With a tour to kick off the release of Invisible World that covers a huge chunk of the United States (including the always interesting South by Southwest music festival) and a show in Toronto, keep your ears open for Helado Negro.

How special is it when a musician can paint the images of our dreams inside our skulls?