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cd review: helado negro: awe owe
10 October, 2009, 10:18 PM
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Reviewed on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 by Areti Sakellaris
Published on URB.com
Asthmatic Kitty
4 Stars

Look no further than the title, Awe Owe, for the rundown of what musical storyteller Roberto Carlos Lange is up to. The “Awe” refers to acknowledging the past, and the “Owe” is for everything that’s to come. So, the title reads as “Ah oh.” And the post-listen reaction seems to be Helado Negro’s desired outcome.

With a rotating cast of characters, Helado Negro is a collective with the vocals of Prefuse 73 maestro Guillermo Scott Herren and Bear in Heaven’s Jon Philpot, and Nori Tanaka notably lends a hand on drums, along with Matt Crum and Hason Trammell… the list goes on. Lange helped produce Prefuse 73, he is involved with Savath y Savalas, School of Seven Bells, moonlights as Epstein, and jams in ROM with Crum. Not to judge an album by its cover, but this one has everything going for it.

The soft strumming and whistling of “Dos Suenos” is a dusty-hued ballad. Looping until it just might loose control, “Time Aparts” ushers in Shannon Fields on clarinet and is a starry-eyed frolic. Title track “Awe” is tropical with its percussion and sounds leaves listeners at the seashore. By the time closing track “Deja” arrives, Adrian Michna’s trombone and Fields’ clarinet glimmer atop a fluttering bass.

Helado Negro songs tend to grow out of live or off-the-cuff jam sessions, and the organic leitmotif binds the dual-language album together. Awe Owe is weightless and quixotic; an album to listen to three times straight and still be hungry for more.