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Music cometiscoming

Published on April 16th, 2019 | by voxx

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The Comet is Coming – Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery

The continuing mission of three space-jazz freaks: a limb-shaking, life-affirming, intergalactic mash-up…

There have been seismic changes in the five years since saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings invited himself on-stage at a Soccer96 show and, by dint of his boldness, birthed The Comet Is Coming. The eminently danceable doomsday prophecies of 2016 debut Channel The Spirits sound far from fanciful in a world that, according to a terrifying IPCC report, has less than 12 years to stave off global warming’s catastrophic effects.

The instant euphoric rapport that devolved from that first meeting pays dividends again as Betamax Killer (Maxwell Hallett), Danalogue The Conqueror (Dan Leavers) and King Shabaka (Hutchings) summon a huge, block-rocking sound from their deceptively simple drums, analogue Roland synths and tenor saxophone setup, conjuring Afro-futurist space jazz that leverages a broad lexicon of electronica, dub, psych, acid house and kosmische.

After sedate, almost Can-like opener ‘Because The End Is Really The Beginning’ wallows in an echo chamber’s wash of keys and smother of cymbals, the similarly downtempo yet purposeful ‘Birth Of Creation’ witnesses Hutchings start to flex his melodic muscles as he swerves and surfs its squidgy techno bleeps and glassy waves.

A more palpable physicality pulses through the heart of ‘Summon The Fire’, whose unhinged four-note bass motif and pummelling percussion drive Hutchings through the octaves. It’s focused, poppy even, and primed to tear up any galactic dancefloor.

A similar giddy exuberance seeps through intense centrepiece ‘Blood Of The Past’, as fluttering synths make way for a seesawing bass riff, quickly doubled up on sax. It’s grounded by a damning electric sermon from literary nomad Kate Tempest, her treated deadpan vocals metallic and alien, before it roars into a headier stratosphere where the oxygen thins but the energy is undimmed.

Much here is undeniably driven by groove: the pulse-racing squelch of ‘Super Zodiac’, the rattling sound assemblage of ‘Timewave Zero’ and the clippety Sun Ra in excelsis on ‘Unity’, offering ample space for Hutchings’ kaleidoscopic melodies in quick-fire, fluid roundhouses. The trio’s core strengths lock-in on closer ‘The Universe Wakes Up’, a proggy magic carpet ride where cymbals splash and gnatty synths bite, while a circling sax twerks and jerks in jolting staccato blurts.

As leader of Sons Of Kemet, Shabaka & The Ancestors and focal point of Melt Yourself Down, it’s easy to cast Hutchings as a lightning rod for the whole jazz renaissance in Britain. While that’s not off the money, the constantly shapeshifting and explosive dynamics of this brutal yet accessible blaze of glory are borne from a collaboration that’s instinctive, primal and alchemical, effortlessly outclassing the competition. So put your helmet on.

- By Jake White


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