Boomkat Product Review:
Weaving an intricately detailed tapestry of meditative, spiritual jazz and dream electronics, Maxwell Sterling’s astonishing second album 'Laced With Rumour: Loud-Speaker Of Truth’ blooms in the cracks between Alice Coltrane, Talk Talk and Kara-Lis Coverdale, gently coaxing us into a trance-like reverie where the real and artificial morph into one pulsating organism.
Originating as a multi-channel installation commissioned by Nottingham Contemporary in 2018, the four extended pieces here were recorded at home in Morecambe Bay and then subsequently placed in a room alongside works by Moki Cherry (spouse of Don, mother of Neneh and Eagle-Eye Cherry), Penny Slinger, and a collection of static musical instruments the piece was intended to complement. As a follow-up to Sterling’s 2017 cult hit ‘Hollywood Medieval’ for The Death of Rave, ‘Laced With Rumour’ works with notably more fluid and gently psychoactive structuring that takes in seemingly disparate influences - from Roman mythology to Nottingham’s Lace industry - that result in a sprawling but intimate world of sound, characterised by aetheric arrangements that effectively elide the disciplines of spiritual jazz, chamber music, and art installation into something altogether new.
Much like Kara-Lis Coverdale’s converging interests in traditional vs hyper-modern, acoustic vs artificial and synthetic modes of sound, Sterling’s work here is fluid and unorthodox, but rooted in a deep understanding of convention which he proceeds to bend and shape at will. The album opens with a slowly contemplative and almost solemn drift between ‘Laced’, which features samples of Don Cherry weft into its tingling fray of electro-acoustic timbres, alongside the breezy chamber strokes of ‘With Rumour’, the hallucinogenic qualities of ‘Loud-Speaker’, and the darker revelation ‘Of Truth’, which concludes with a transition from mired murk to tones that channel Maxwell’s refined cinematic nous.
One of those albums that's impossible to fully absorb in one sitting, ‘Laced With Rumour...’ takes you from a swirl of brushed cymbals into harpsichord shimmers, passages of solo piano falling up against the deepest subs like a more bruised and flipped Sakamoto + Alva Noto collab, to Arthur Russell's 'World Of Echo’ slowly descending into synthesised madness. It's a rich and stunning meditation for our time.