Far In

Helado Negro

Far In

In August of 2018, Helado Negro mastermind Roberto Carlos Lange found himself in Berlin, collaborating and performing with more than 150 other artists as part of the PEOPLE festival, a weeklong artist residency founded by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner. Afterward, on his way home to New York, he spotted multi-instrumentalist and new age pioneer Laraaji seated nearby at the airport. “I don't like bugging people like that in public spaces,” Lange tells Apple Music, “but I did it. And then, as I was telling him what we’d been up to in Berlin, he was like, ‘Oh, wow. Far in.’”
That expression stayed with him—so much so that it became a title and kind of unifying principle for his full-length follow-up to 2019 breakthrough This Is How You Smile. A reaction to what he calls the “implied grooves” of his previous work, Far In finds him moving away from the ethereal towards arrangements whose drums and bass are noticeably “present” throughout. Written in Brooklyn and Marfa, Texas—during a stay extended by the pandemic’s first lockdown—it’s a bilingual set of moody, psychedelic folk and pop that even at its dreamiest has a strong sense of place, whether he’s conjuring the fragrant citrus groves of his native South Florida or the spiritual expanse of a desert vista. “What I've tried to do—and I think what I've always tried to do—is make sure each song is its own world,” he says. “Far In was the best way for me to describe it, the way for me to talk about how I wanted to express a lot of different places and sounds that I know how to get to, but I maybe haven't shared before. I had to just look further in.” Here, he walks us through a number of the album’s songs.
“Wake Up Tomorrow” (feat. Kacy Hill) “There's something about it that is a complete mystery. It feels like it's a doorway or it's just some kind of path somewhere out in some overgrown, shrubby path that's leading you somewhere, to some light. I think a lot of it has to do with Kacy's vocals on it, this humming melody that she does. It's just haunting.”
“Gemini and Leo” “I'm a Leo, my wife is a Gemini. I was working on this really funny loop that I wasn't sure was going to go anywhere. And then, the melody just clicked. A lot of times I shape the lyrics phonetically, in terms of trying to find what melodies attach. I don’t know why I was just thinking about us, but ‘her and I’—that was the hook. And then I was like, ‘Shit. Now I’ve got to make a song around this. Let's find a way to design a little story that talks about this relationship.’”
“There Must Be a Song Like You” “There's different ways to look at it, and I think one of them is looking at somebody that you don't necessarily see eye-to-eye with. But another thing that I was thinking about was, how do you define this person, or how do you define this thing, because ‘you’ doesn't really have to be a person. ‘You’ could be you confronting a feeling, trying to describe what that feeling is, and maybe the only place you can find it is in the song.”
“Hometown Dream” “It was one of the first songs I wrote when I got back to Brooklyn from Marfa, and a lot of those songs were responding to being forced into living somewhere else for six months, and really realizing that the world is beautiful everywhere. In a way, the idea of a hometown is just a dream. This idea of being a native anything. I think it's just a fantasy, more than anything, and that's kind of the feeling that I'm trying to convey with this.”
“Outside the Outside” “That breakdown was a moment of inspiration. I was using this synth that I was really getting into, the OP-Z. And that moment in the song, it's one of those happy accidents, where I didn't extend some edits and everything had dropped out except for the synth and I was like, ‘Oh, shit.’ It kind of pushed the whole theme of being outside the outside. It's almost like the further outside the outside you are, you're going far in. Not to put the joke on it, but it's true.”
“Brown Fluorescence” “It's an interlude. It's a song, too. It’s a field recording I made, of some voices that I was able to record. They’re all chopped up and processed, but there was a glow about it. When I talk about music, it's more in colors and shapes and textures. It has nothing to do with synesthesia or anything like that—it’s a vocabulary I use because I didn't go to music school or anything. So there was something about this idea of something having a brown fluorescence, and that was the feeling I got when I was making that song. It was like this funny glow, something that was not like a fluorescent light, but almost like if there was a brown rock that was fluorescent and you just found it in nature.”
“Wind Conversation” “The theme—which is a thread that runs through the whole album—was kind of this feeling towards climate change, towards the earth, being spiritually moved by being in Marfa. I had never really experienced the desert before. But the song’s also going deeper into thinking about not so much impending doom, but impending changes that are going to cause a lot of hardships. It takes place under this tree that my wife Kristi and I would go to sometimes, to have lunch under in this park, essentially, surrounded by the desert. It was just us, laying back, looking out to the cliffs, daydreaming.”
“Thank You For Ever” “It's another play on this idea—it’s not 'thank you forever,' it's 'thank you forever, dot, dot, dot.' And I think that's kind of what the song is about, this expansiveness. I think that's the first song I've ever written that really feels like the desert. That one was a dream. I just woke up, went to the studio, and it kind of just ignited out of me. It all happened in one day, in one sitting.”
“La Naranja” “‘Naranja’ means orange, and it's kind of like a cousin to another song on the record, ‘Agosto.’ It’s this abstract idea, thinking about how there used to be all these orange trees around me growing up in South Florida. It was something that we would experience in a life cycle: There would be the blossoms and then there would be the oranges and then the oranges would hit the ground and then they'd be rotting and then it would stink. There was this abundance, and then it was gone—they cut down all the trees. It’s about this era that we've grown up in, how we've had access to everything, and knowing that it's not going to last forever. ‘You and I can stop time. You and I can save the world together’: That's what the song says in Spanish.”
“Telescope” (feat. Benamin) “It's a song that I wrote for my mom, this idea of how we're Zooming or FaceTiming, but how it’s been like a telescope. You're only seeing this person through this way of seeing, and it just doesn't feel tangible. It doesn't feel like the person you know. You're seeing this person as if you're reading about them in a book or something.”

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