Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Comet is Coming - Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Impulse, 2019)

The London jazz scene is truly having a moment. While the avant garde regiment explores the outer limits at Cafe OTO, the modern mainstream section moves in a different direction adding elements of hip-hop, electronica and krautrock to modern jazz, creating a sensual, searching music in the process. The Comet Is Coming consists of scene regulars King Shabaka (Shabaka Hutchings) on saxophones; Danalogue (Dan Leavers) on keyboards and synthesizers and Betamax (Max Hallett) on drums and percussion. Fans of straight ahead jazz have little to fear, if you enjoy the groovier side of Sun Ra or Archie Shepp, you will feel right at home here. On "Summon the Fire" electronic textures and rhythm are picked up by the saxophone and hard pummeling drums. Jabs of electronic hooks meet them in a pugilistic squall adding to a collective improvisation that is tight and powerful as peals of raw saxophone solo cover a crisp beat. Electronics frame the band going full bore, with a huge and all encompassing sound leading to repetitive saxophone figures over shifting beats and electronics. Featuring guest vocalist Kate Tempest, "Blood of the Past" begins with shimmering electronics swooping and grinding a crushing beat, meeting heavy saxophone and creating an oppressive atmosphere. After three minutes the sound opens up and Tempest's proud and declarative spoken word performance adds further fuel to the fire with meaningful lyrics focusing on "the scar on the soul of the world." After she steps away there is a torrid saxophone response leading to an excellent full band conclusion. This builds into "Super Zodiac" where soft, slightly wavering electronic textures seem to blow in the breeze, then break into a fast dance beat, soon met by powerful drumming and strutting saxophone playing that builds up the tension of the performance through repetition and release. The music is hot and fast, building to blinding speeds, sort of an EDM jazz that uses the virtuosity of the musicians to take the sound to unfathomable places. "Timewave Zero" works from an eerie cinematic soundscape, as fast percussion morphs into the mix and saxophone guilds in developing his statement block by block. The drummer cooks up a quick and alluring rhythm allowing the group to engage in a choppy improvised section playing together at a very impressive speed and showing the band has a firm grasp on their concept and use it to create vibrant and powerful music. Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery -

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