Review : OMBRE - Believe You Me
ConsequenceofsoundOver there sits Julianna Barwick’s The Magic Place, an album that radiated dreaminess, seemingly endless loops of her angelic vocals towering over an idyllic landscape. Over there sits Roberto Carlos Lange, who records under the name Helado Negro, produces Latin-tinged psych-folk like the sublime Canta Lechuza. Here now, Lange and Barwick decided to record under the name OMBRE, a name fitting for either its meaning as a hair-dying technique (dark at the roots, lightening at the ends, echoing the melding unification) or as an outdated card game (complicated and richly sepia). Rather than compounding the celestial sleepiness of the two artists, winding up in an infinitely blurred dreamland, the collaborative Believe You Me is a complex interplay where each artist’s voice stands out, yet fits in.
Lange’s lithe psychedelia and Barwick’s pastoral ambience often find their unexpected match in the other’s element on the album. Listening back to Barwick, who’d have known that she would be the perfect backing vocalist for a steamy strummer like “Weight Those Words”? Or that ripples of electronic percussion could push Barwick into Zola Jesus territory so easily and with such shimmering results as “Cara Falsa”? These two didn’t even seem to know, as Lange apparently reached out to Barwick through the internet long ago, the two working on these tracks for nearly two years. But to wind up with tracks like “Sense” – a choppy, manipulated wonderland where the duo match the glory of The Magic Place – a song that rings so perfectly for one half of the collaboration, shows their complete synchronicity....full text
BbcHelado Negro first heard Julianna Barwick’s music in 2009, when a click through MySpace landed him on the Louisiana-born singer’s page. Negro was immediately smitten, and the pair toured together in 2010. Now, a year on from Barwick’s mesmerising debut LP The Magic Place, which featured in BBC Music’s top albums of 2011, comes this collaborative album as OMBRE.
Believe You Me does little to exceed expectations. But it doesn’t need to, given the fine pedigrees of these musicians. It works to the strengths of each, allowing Negro and Barwick their own spaces to shine while sculpting an overall, engrossing ambience around the pair.
Barwick’s vocals are weightless, near-indiscernible things that colour the acoustic strums of Negro. They slow-dance their way around the light percussion of the divine Cara Falsa and Dawning’s sun-dappled drones. Negro comes to the fore, vocally, on Weight Those Words, his South American roots coming through clearly – although born in Florida, he’s the son of Ecuadorian parents....full text
PitchforkIf there's a common thread running through the music of Asthmatic Kitty labelmates Helado Negro, aka Roberto Lange, and Julianna Barwick, it's that both make records that sound like being alone in someone else's head. You could say this, of course, about a lot music and plenty of solo records in particular, but there's a certain embrace of tranquility, diffuseness, and acceptance of solitude that links their sensibilities. The nocturnal, Latin-tinged loops of Helado Negro's 2011 album Canta Lechuza (translation: owl singing), were pleasantly insomniac, like what you'd listen to after everyone else in the house has gone to sleep, knowing that's when your best ideas come. Same goes for the layered, wordless vocal wisps out of which Barwick composed the songs on her best and most recent LP, 2011's The Magic Place. Hovering somewhere between pop melodicism and ambient abstraction, Helado Negro and Barwick's music reimagines solitude not as a form of loneliness, but instead as something productive, joyful, quietly beatific.
So what happens when two happy-go-lucky loners work together? We got an inkling of the answer late last year, when Lange offered up his take on Barwick's "Vow" for her decent, if superfluous, Matrimony Remixes EP. Moreso than Diplo & Lunice's relatively boilerplate remix of the same track, Lange's version kept something of Barwick's sensibility intact, favoring cumulous atmosphere over groove. A product of nearly two years of casually jamming together in his Brooklyn studio, Believe You Me, Lange and Barwick's debut record together as OMBRE, lives up to the promise of this remix, and in some cases even improves upon it.
Because Barwick's style is so transparent, Believe You Me sounds, ostensibly, more like a Helado Negro record than one of her solo efforts: Lange's casually strummed upstrokes and thick, relaxed croon will sound familiar to any ears acquainted with Canta Lechuza. But closer listens reveal Barwick's contributions-- and her ameliorating affects on Lange's approach. Lechuza's fascination with blips and glitches was, occasionally, its downfall; Lange couldn't always work in his electro-tendencies without interrupting or detracting from the tracks' atmosphere. The addition of Barwick here actually subtracts elements from his sound, often to great effect. Her weightless backing vocals steer the zero-gravity Tropicália of "Noche Brilla Pts. 1 and 2", and add a celestial gloss to the loungey and gorgeous "Weight Those Words", which should be played on a loop in every hotel bar in heaven....full text
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