The eternal outsider Helado Negro has maintained a singular career in subtly Latin-laced, experimental, acousto-electro pop from outrunning expectations—his own included. Usually on his own, the sotto voce and soulful Helado switches lanes on his first album for 4AD to welcome a larger musical ensemble (featuring indie world superstars Luis Del Valle, Jan St. Werner, Opal Hoyt, William Tyler, and Tortoise’s John Herndon), and a livelier palate of textured, layered sounds, rhythmic twitches, and lushly verdant vibes that go beyond, or as one of his new songs states, “Outside the Outside.”
As hymnal as David Bowie’s Blackstar without the finality, the chamber-string wash of serenity that is the Kacy Hill–featuring “Wake Up Tomorrow” finds favor in literally humming friends and thin drumming while Helado welcomes the day. Moving a little faster than “Wake Up,” “Gemini and Leo” is an ’80s clap-happy romance in the stars. With a quiver in his voice and a galaxy before him, “Gemini” is universal in the best (and least corny) way. The talky “There Must Be a Song Like You” is everything Stereolab could’ve been if they’d chosen R&B rather than space cabaret as their métier. And in his continuance of smashing the barriers of what Latin language music could be, the soft squall of blip and bells prevalent throughout “Aguas Frías,” the sandy a cappella “Agosto,” and the haunting soul of “La Naranja” offer the sort of worlds within worlds only visible through a telescope.