ROBERT SOTELO: A Box Room of Ideas

19th September 2017

Title: Cusp

Label: Upset the Rhythm

Sotelo apparently played all of the instruments on this rather relaxed and low key debut album of his that, reportedly, looks at significant boundaries within Sotelo’s own life.

Which is all well and good and ‘ho hum’.

What does interest me, though, is the approach that Sotelo takes to his music. It’s dense. Layered, even. I could say that he takes a 60s take on the arrangements but, look, the world and his mother are doing the same. The hunt for originality often spirals back into the derivative.

Yet, the nostalgic air does betray that very state. The Grandaddy-esque vocal overdubs is just the start. I wonder if Sotelo has the same sort of fear of exposure that used to dog John Lennon, who couldn’t face the revelation of his own voice. Don’t think I’m allying Lennon with Soltelo, either. I’m not. But Sotelo does hide behind his overdubs and his multi-layered arrangements that provide a deep, dense and almost claustrophobic presentation to this album. There’s no aural room. It’s like sitting in a box room full of rubbish accumulated over a period of 30 years.

Sotelo also likes his simple repetitive rhythms. He bangs them out in a desperate attempt to create a hook that will have you coming back for more, no doubt. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it does. But you wonder if the shotgun approach works by accident. And then you wonder if life is too short, just to stumble across Sotelo’s happy accidents.

Mastering is reasonable. There’s a cooling edge to the midrange but nothing too bad.

Sotelo should persist. Make more mistakes (there’s lots here) and explore. But he needs to be brave. There’s much that is bland here. If Sotelo works hard he might forge find a path. At the moment. It’s in a box. Somewhere in that littered room of his.