The fifth album from Roberto Carlos Lange (Helado Negro) is a high-quality offering. Private Energy is well-written and varied, blending different music genres, different languages and different production styles.
It begins mystically and smoothly, with the scarce and slowly-sung lyrics of “Calienta” before moving on to the short, expressive lyrics that are a staple of his work, such as the regularly repeated questions and statements on “Tartamudo” and “Personas Facil”.
“Young, Latin and Proud” heads up what is the solid centre of the album. This particular song is a charged, bilingual celebration that anyone can belong to any societal mould with which they feel an affinity, regardless of age or status. That feeling of empowerment comes through once more in “We Don’t Have Time For That” where he sings that “physical dimensions don’t hold me back anymore”.
Helado Negro is Ecuadorian by blood and American by birth and the lyrics of Latin politics that he touched on in “Young, Latin and Proud” return later on “It’s My Brown Skin”. The ‘skin’ is described as something that “glows”, “shines” and “will keep you safe”.
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“Transmission Listen” is a well-crafted serenade to the the peaks and troughs of relationships. It charts a beautiful path through the push and pull of loves and lies and of an uncertain romance: “come undress me – don’t take too long” and “I’m fond of you but I don’t believe you”.
He has four brief instrumental numbers (which he calls obras or ‘works’), dotted throughout the album, and they offer a strange mix of watery echo chambers, the light touch of steel drums, chattering birdsong, the wandering thoughts of lonely brass and a frenzy of stuttering electronic distortions.
Private Energy is never in danger of being banal. It is an easy-listening album that allows us to go on a journey of melodious contemplation without ever losing focus. It is calm but not cloudy; it is thoughtful but not a daydream.
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