Saturday 6 July 2019
Cosmic jazz act makes us all want to dance and freak out

Are comets harbingers of destruction? If such a prophecy is to be true, here’s a brilliant soundtrack for the end of the world. This British three-piece jazz act makes us all dance.

The members are called Danalogue The Conqueror, Betamax Killer and King Shabaka. The latter’s real name is Shabaka Hutchings. He also leads Sons of Kemet (who also plays Roskilde Festival 2019), plays in Melt Yourself Down and guests with Polar Bear and The Heliocentrics and occasionally Arkestra – Sun Ra’s freeform ensemble, still going more than two decades after his death. Hutchings is a busy man – and one of the most exciting figures in British jazz right now.

And the Sun Ra link is noticeable. The Comet Is Coming was formed in 2013, after saxophonist – and compulsive collaborator – Shabaka Hutchings spontaneously joined funk duo Soccer96 on stage. The trio combines Sun Ra's mythological themes and love of the experimental, whipping up a fusion of jazz, Afrobeat and electronica in an improvisational, intergalactic mash-up. 

On their 2016 debut, Channels the Spirits, The Comet Is Coming paid homage to cosmic jazz in unpredictable and exciting ways (the were nominated for the Mercury Prize for that one). On their 2019 album, Trust in the Life Force of the Deep Mystery (gotta love that title, right?), the group takes a startling turn towards 70s prog and pulsating electronic music that draws from the spontaneity and invention of free jazz.

The critics are really raving about it! So are we! In the words of The Guardian: “This is hardcore music for a generation weaned on rave and grime, jazz’s cutting edge. The comet isn’t coming, it’s arrived.”

The Comet Is Coming is a formidable live force, possessing the rhythmic intensity of a trance-state and, when applied lightly, inventive electronics that go way beyond novelty.