A new electronic album offers a soundtrack for contemplation

Helado Negro’s “Phasor” summons warmth and comfort from cold machines.
Arts & Culture


Helado Negro (4AD, 2024)

Phasor, the eighth studio album from electronic musician Roberto Carlos Lange (stage name Helado Negro), was born out of two wildly divergent experiences. The first was Lange’s 2019 experimentations with the Sal-Mar Construction, a synthesizer built in 1969 from spare supercomputer parts that generates music from sequences of random numbers. The second was Lange’s move to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, to be closer to family.

Machine and nature. Cold numbers and warm connections. Somehow, Lange is able to make these stark binaries cohere. The compositions on Phasor, built from the Sal-Mar synthesizer, field recordings, gentle guitar strums, and Lange’s own soothing, airy vocals, evoke the kind of easy creativity that comes from setting aside life’s busy complexities and slipping into a contemplative stillness.

On “I Just Want to Wake Up with You,” Lange finds this stillness in domestic simplicity, singing “What would you say if I changed my name now / Could we make it a new place to stay now?” The track “Best for You and Me” finds Lange contemplating his parents’ separation, finding what little peace he can by “looking at the moon way too long.”

“Colores Del Mar” states this theme most directly, with its simple, repetitive chorus of “Y no quiero me buscan / Solo quiero desaparecer” (“And I don’t want to look for myself / I only want to disappear”). In a short film accompanying Phasor’s release, Lange said of this track, “It’s not so much looking into oblivion . . . it’s thinking about what’s a really good way to step back or step outside of things that feel so insular.”


All told, Phasor is a kind of sonic retreat, both for Lange and for his audience. It’s music that seems channeled more than written and makes the perfect soundtrack for some contemplation of one’s own.

This article also appears in the April 2024 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 89, No. 4, page 38). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.

Image: Phasor album cover, Helado Negro