Helado Negro: “LFO (Lupe Finds Oliveros)”

Spend enough time browsing forums dedicated to Fender guitars, and eventually you’ll come across the name of Lupe Lopez. An employee at the company’s Los Angeles factory in the 1950s, she worked soldering wires into their iconic tweed-wrapped amplifiers. Over the years, her amps have become prized by collectors, who can identify her meticulous work by the hand-written signature she left scrawled on masking tape inside each cabinet.

Helado Negro’s new song “LFO”—short for “Lupe Finds Oliveros”—pays homage to Lopez in a fanciful thought experiment that pairs the amplifier artisan with the ambient pioneer who developed a philosophy known as Deep Listening. Though they came from radically different milieus, both might be said to represent, in their attention to detail, the quest for transcendence in sound.

The song is a big, shaggy psych-rock jam featuring tube-warmed guitars and white-hot tambourines that seem to bleed across the tape—a far cry from the refined dance grooves of Helado Negro’s 2021 album, Far In. Spinning a circuitous, Spanish-language tale of cops and gardens, of a “voice trapped in my skin,” Lange sings a hymn to dissolution before arriving at the song’s triumphant refrain: “Ya sé quién soy”—I know who I am! Both the blown-out breakdown and the blown-mind lyrics suggest lysergic journeys past the limits of reason. Whatever might link Lopez with Oliveros, Lange suggests, it lies here, in the place where the joy of sound swallows the self whole.