One of experimental electronic producer Roberto Carlos Lange's numerous monikers, Helado Negro is a collaborative project associated with Asthmatic Kitty Records that made its album debut in 2009 with Awe Owe. Born in South Florida in 1980 of Ecuadorian heritage, Lange made his recording debut in the early 2000s, when he released music under a few different monikers, most notably ROM (a collaboration with drummer Matt Crum), Epstein, and Boom & Birds. The eponymous album ROM (2005) on Wimm Recordings is a compilation of Lange's collaborations with Crum dating back to 2000. He was most prolific as Epstein, releasing the full-length albums Puñal (2004), Gente Sin Pueblo (2005), Canto de Hermanos (2007), and Otros (2008); the former two on the label Botanica del Jibaro, the latter two on Arepaz. As Boom & Birds, he released the album Camino de Manos Chuecas (2005) on Arepaz.
After moving to Brooklyn, New York, in 2006, Lange began a fruitful collaboration with Guillermo Scott Herren, earning co-production credits on the Prefuse 73 releases The Class of 73 Bells (2007) and Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian (2009) on Warp Records, plus the Savath + Savalas album La Llama (2009) on Stones Throw. In the wake of these high-profile releases in collaboration with Herren, Lange made his album debut as Helado Negro with Awe Owe (2009) on Asthmatic Kitty. A highly collaborative effort, Awe Owe featured input from Herren, former ROM collaborator Crum (also of Feathers), Jon Philpot (the frontman of Bear in Heaven), and numerous others. By contrast, Lange recorded Helado Negro's second album, 2011's Canta Lechuza ("Owl Singing") after holing up in a cabin in Connecticut. In 2012, Lange collaborated with Julianna Barwick as OMBRE, releasing the album Believe You Me. Invisible Life, which featured Lange singing in English as well as Spanish, arrived in early 2013.
Helado Negro returned in 2014 with Double Youth, a nostalgic, home-recorded set of songs that took inspiration from a poster he had owned since childhood and rediscovered while cleaning out a closet. In 2015, collaborators including Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier and Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen helped bring songs from Helado Negro's Island Universe Story cassette series to St. Paul, Minnesota's Ordway Concert Hall as Island Universe Story: Selected Works. The following year, all three volumes of Island Universe Story -- which were released between 2012 and 2014 -- were issued as a compilation by Asthmatic Kitty. Helado Negro's next album was preceded by a pair of singles, 2015's "Young, Latin & Proud" and "It's My Brown Skin," reflecting the themes of Latin pride and cultural awareness found on the rest of Private Energy. Informed by '70s Latin soul and dub, the album appeared in October 2016. ~ Jason Birchmeier