After the cultural and political reckoning of Helado Negro's widely acclaimed This Is How You Smile, on Far In Roberto Carlos Lange reconnects with the importance of pleasure when it comes to creating a sense of self or music. Where his last album was grounded in nourishing traditions, Far In feels light and open to all of life's possibilities. Lange promises better days ahead on the weightless opening track "Wake Up Tomorrow," and that buoyant feeling of hope extends all the way to the album's end on songs like "La Naranja"'s bubbly electronic pop. Far In is often so pretty and mellow that it's easy to underestimate everything that's going on in its serene yet detailed production and arrangements. Lange has struck this balance gracefully since the Awe Owe days, and it's just as apparent on the gentle glow of "Aguas Frías" as on the more determined arc of "Aureole," a piece that spirals into cosmic atmospheres reminiscent of Dots and Loops-era Stereolab. Just as expertly, he swirls together numerous styles in transporting ambiences that wrap themselves around the listener. Whether he delves into dusky desert folk on "Wind Conversation," folds soul and funk into "Telescope," or crafts swooning disco illuminated by starlight instead of a mirror ball on "Gemini and Leo," it sounds equally harmonious and genuine. Along the way, Lange conjures up powerful sense memories that give the feeling of being there, or wishing you could be; on "There Must Be a Song Like You," he sings of "grass growing like we knew" while steel drums float by like a summer breeze. As on Private Energy and This Is How You Smile, Lange's songwriting on Far In is the equal of his sound-shaping. This time, he puts joy first, and the warmth and love in his songs make it clear that it's just as vital to celebrate and cherish as it is to resist. He makes room for fizzy flirtation with "Outside the Outside"'s percolating beats, love that grows younger and stronger by the day on "Purple Tones," and echoing gratitude that does indeed feel timeless on "Thank You For Ever." Tour de force might be too weighty a term for an album so seemingly effortless, but from its unhurried flow to its wealth of songs, Far In is a glorious showcase for all the aspects of Helado Negro's music.
Far In Review
by Heather Phares