Robert Sotelo is a mercurial melodist building a resplendent world of pristine DIY pop from the ground up. The Glasgow-based artist’s songs are meticulously crafted, patchworked together with eclectic arrangements and ardent vocal performances. Each of his albums to date has been accompanied by a growth-spurt, 2017’s debut ‘Cusp’ was packed with miniature psych overtures, whilst 2018’s 'Botanical' was more keyboard-minded and playful with a near-absurdist palette of sound. ‘Infinite Sprawling’ came out towards the end of 2019 and surprised with songs pulled together like a wakeful stretch, brisk with a lightness of touch. This was neatly followed by ‘Leap & Bounce’ melding a sparse synth-pop minimalism to an emotional undertow.
This November Upset The Rhythm will release Robert Sotelo’s vivid new album ‘Celebrant’. ‘Celebrant’ was intended to be and still is to some extent a joyous wedding album (Sotelo is recently married), but in his own words “the pandemic and the death of my aunt Carmen intersected with the original concept so the album is darker than intended in places.” More cinematic and measured than prior albums, Sotelo expounds that “it is purposefully a bigger sounding attempt at my keyboard songs and I felt more ambitious about it in general.” That’s certainly reflected in these twelve sophisticated loops of song, all curiously affecting and catchy, sprinkled with Sotelo’s offbeat musings and keenly accurate observations. Guitars are rarely employed on this record with Sotelo recruiting Iain Mccall, Ross Blake, Celia Morgan and David Maxwell to contribute brass, woodwind, spoken word and acoustic drums respectively. All of these additions blend well with the album’s synthetic core, softening and subtly shaping its pop-first nature into something more nuanced, vulnerable and human.