Boomkat Product Review:
Although originally released on download formats last year, 2017 saw the first vinyl release of Maxwell Sterling's stunning solo debut album 'Hollywood Medieval', remastered for this new edition complete with new artwork by the artist’s mother - Manchester post-punk legend Linder Sterling. Huge recommendation if you're into TCF, Philip Glass, Coil, 0PN, James Ferraro.
Hollywood Medieval is an album about the glaring disparities and elaborate, underlying convolutions the composer observed and felt while working as a nanny for wealthy parents during his film composition studies at UCLA in the early part of the 2010s. Using an augmented a palette of classic DX7 and Juno 60 synths along with a severely warped bank of library samples and iPhone recordings, it spells out a queasily evocative simulacra of the city in flux, animating a sort of Ballardian tableaux that’s hyper-descriptive in its rendering of the hazy, dosed-up, and often delirious transitions between Hollywood's glamour and grime, using LA's gurning facades and ostentatious wealth as prompts for a richly visual side of sawn-off emotive signposts and jazz-taut turns of phrase that vividly etch on the memory in neon freehand.
From the dizzying sugar rush of the opening sequence, Hollywood Medieval I, to its spiralling counterpoint in Hollywood Medieval II, taking in the Derrick May/Sueno Latino-esque $50 Curse Removal and the Lorenzo Senni like whisked peaks of Synthetic Beach, the album is an inception-like concerto, with Maxwell smartly subverting the film score composer’s role by placing the music centre stage and allowing the narration to be carried by virtuosic flourishes owing to his classical and jazz music schooling, as he explains “one compositional intention was to push the sample libraries to their limits, testing their claims of being ‘realistic’, and finding the points at which they break and falter and become something new and less recognisable.”
In a sense, Hollywood Medieval resonates with the way Sam Kidel subverted the nature of Ambient music on Disruptive Muzak, and offers an alternative, lucid view of the hazy LA offered by Delroy Edwards Teenage Tapes and likewise, works like a present diagnosis of the dystopian future worlds dreamed up in The Sprawl’s dystopian, widescreen visions on EP1, effectively broadening and illuminating The Death of Rave’s own sonic hauntology.