The Comet Is Coming
2022 / Impulse! Records
Review by Steve Yip
CODE is a single from the forthcoming The Comet Is Coming album Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam. The Comet Is Coming is a “synth-sax-drum” trio staffed by DANALOGUE (Dan Leavers), SHABAKA (Shabaka Hutchings), and BETAMAX (Max Hallett).
Subjectively, The Comet Is Coming is informed by the saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, who has been an innovative force in the London-based fusion jazz movement. In addition to The Comet Is Coming, the Afro-centric Shabaka figures prominently as a speedster in two other musical ensembles -- Shabaka & the Ancestors, and the Sons of Kemet. His reputation has been thriving globally. As Shabaka explains from his website, “The common theme in my career as a jazz musician has been wondering if what I’m doing is the thing that I should be doing.” Born in the UK and raised in the Caribbean, Hutchings studied classical clarinet at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama.
CODE captures the driving, staccato-like saxophonic waves (with solid beats and melodic backgrounds) that I have found with works by The Comet Is Coming. Some narratives have associated Shabaka with the spiritual jazz roots by the likes of Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, and more recently, the Los Angeles-based musical peer, the saxophonist and band leader Kamasi Washington -- just to name a few.
And I get that. To me as a nonprofessional reviewer, Shabaka embodies a totally different manifestation from, for example, some of Pharoah Sanders’s more mellow ballads and upbeat anthems. (And I’ve been a Pharoah Sanders devotee since college.)
In CODE, you will find this relentless force coming from Shabaka’s saxophone, and his solos are almost non-stop. How does he do it and with such sustained stamina? You can also see and hear this virtuosity in The Comet Is Coming’s performance on the NPR Tiny Desk Concerts a couple of years ago. As the press release pronounces, “The Comet Is Coming grab you by the head and don’t let go with their relentless and fiery sound, “at once eliciting thoughts of impending doom and possible hope” (Pitchfork). The ingredients: 80s synth models, saxophone and drums, sprinkled with visceral punk rock, interstellar jazz blasts, and dance-floor trances.”
I’m confident we will hear more of this excitement coming from this forthcoming album, scheduled for release in September 2022 on Impulse! Records.
August 9, 2022