Helado Negro
Phasor


3.5
great

Review

by Brendan Schroer CONTRIBUTOR (262 Reviews)
February 11th, 2024 | 11 replies


Release Date: 02/09/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let's take a trip together.

Prior to the release of Phasor, Helado Negro (real name Roberto Carlos Lange) expressed his desire to to look outward for inspiration rather than inward. Speaking with Paste last month, he had the following to say:

“It feels like the things that are rewarded the most are what’s the most revealing or the most vulnerable. And it’s unfair because there’s a wider palette of things to embrace as forms of expression. That’s what I wanted to do with this record, was keep it not so heavily based on traumas or personal identities.”

As such, Phasor takes more inspiration from fiction than personal experiences. More importantly though, the record tends to blur the line between engaging avant-pop and relaxing mood music. Its modest, 35-minute tracklist plays out like a somewhat random grab-bag of various ambiances and vibes – all punctuated with Lange’s relaxing, calming vocal inflections. And, perhaps to both the benefit and detriment of the album, these songs tend to be flighty little pieces that go wherever the hell Lange wants them to. For example, let’s check out the opener “LFO” (no, not the band who made “Summer Girls”). It starts at a pretty agreeable pace with a nice thumping beat and upbeat guitars, but then it just randomly screeches to a halt and gives us an ambient violin passage! That’s the kind of random experimentation I’m talking about, and it’s just a taste of what Phasor offers.

Sometimes this disjointedness works in favor of the album, as is the case with “LFO”. Sure, the detour is strange, but it’s not too out-there. Another track that benefits from such adventurousness is “Out There”, whose bassline provides a wonderful anchor during each of its ebbs and flows. Occasionally all the layers of buildup will abruptly cut out, leaving the bass and percussion in their most stark, naked state; that way, the layers can build back up more effectively than ever. And herein lies the best thing about Phasor: Lange’s ability to build and break down these songs in such compelling ways. Despite mostly being an avant-pop/art pop record, there’s something very post-rock about its exploration of textures and hypnotic repetitions. The difference, of course, lies in how short and concise most of these songs are. Take “Best For You and Me” for example: in only three minutes, we get a lovely piano-driven piece that slowly develops its musical theme; a few more piano runs here, a few more vocal harmonies there, and then…

…the song ends as soon as it began. As I alluded to earlier, this also tends to be the biggest drawback of Phasor. The thing is: these ideas and motifs are really interesting! Lange clearly has a talent for this kind of moody, steady worldbuilding; I just wish he didn’t consign them to such miniscule track lengths. Some songs clearly feel as though they’re designed to be extended a few more minutes, such as the spacy acoustic ballad “Flores” or the dingy electronic highlight “Wish You Could Be Here”. Still, that criticism doesn’t necessarily apply to every song on Phasor; just listen to that mysterious, off-kilter closer “Es Una Fantasia”. The way Lange’s delicate vocals meld with the strange acoustic guitar chords, the way the beat keeps dropping out to raise the tension of the song… it’s wonderful stuff, and a perfect way to cap off such a compelling record. Phasor is by no means a perfect album, and it could really benefit from a bit more focus and a further fleshing-out of its ideas. But if you’re looking for a record that’ll transport you to some captivating soundscapes and locales, this will fit the bill very nicely.



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user ratings (9)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, it's been almost a month since my last review! Anyway, I enjoyed this quite a bit. Lovely (if somewhat unfocused) little art-pop pieces

Spec
February 11th 2024


39047 Comments


This is a really good review and kind of makes me want to check this out.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 11th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thank you! 😁😁😁

DoofDoof
February 12th 2024


14483 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Enjoyable, hard to quantify just how great this is yet but with a rare sighting of blue skies today I'm enjoying it even more on the third listen.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^ Yeah, this might end up getting even better with repeated listens. I guess we'll see :]

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2024


31822 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Brendan, good to see you're writing again. I have this one lined up for this week. Will report back.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 13th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Appreciate it Dewi! Yeah, it feels good to be writing again for sure. I think you'll enjoy this one, especially if you're looking for something more laid-back and atmospheric

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2024


31822 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jamming now, very eclectic for sure. I like it.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 15th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice, glad you liked it! :]

DoofDoof
February 15th 2024


14483 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This album might secretly only have the depth of a paddling pool but the sun dances real pretty over the water anyway.

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
February 15th 2024


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's a good way to put it.



As I said in the writeup, I think that impression could have changed if the songs were a bit longer and more fleshed-out. As they are now, most of them give the listener a small taste of each musical "setting" (so to speak). But damn are those settings beautiful, lol



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