In recent years, Shabaka Hutchings has arguably become the face of the London jazz scene. This status has not arrived without merit, as the tenor sax/bass clarinetist has recently led and been a part of a slew of quality albums, including Your Queen Is A Reptile (Sons of Kemet) and La Saboteuse (Yazz Ahmed) and Wisdom of Elder (Shabaka and the Ancestors). Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery by The Comet Is Coming, a band made up of Shabaka (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet), Danalogue (synthesizer, keyboards) and Beatmax (drums), is another fine album that further solidifies Hutchings’ status as one of the key artists in modern jazz.
There is a stark difference between each of the various Hutchings’ projects. As opposed to the more afro-beat vibes of Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming’s approach is a distinctly modern take on jazz fusion. The electronic, almost glitchy features that surround the clarinet’s catchy motif in “Birth of Creation” should give the listener a good idea of where the band’s headspace is at. It’s not ‘Trane, it’s not Miles and it’s not Flying Lotus, but one could imagine that the work of all three had an influence here.
The album opens up beautifully with “Because the End Is Really the Beginning”, where synthesizers provide a slow, ominous melody as the drumming increases in intensity. Hutchings provides gorgeous languid passages over a shroud of distorted sound accompanied by rising synths that create an otherworldly atmosphere. Three tracks later, The Comet hit the listener with something from the opposite side of the spectrum, the powerful “Blood of The Past”. It plays like a song out for revenge. A gritty bass-guitar-like riff begins the piece and is eventually joined by Hutchings’ vigorous improvisation. He attacks the composition with the type of force and abandon that typifies great jazz recordings, making “Blood of The Past” a standout track.
The next song, “Super Zodiac”, starts much more atmospheric than its predecessor. This quickly changes about 40 seconds in with a relentless synth line and hard drumming that will definitely cause heads to nod. The sax comes in like a machine gun, somehow almost keeping pace with the synths. “Astral Flying” is much more reserved, but just as impressive. A mesmerizing loop of keys and synths courses throughout the track, providing the perfect backdrop to brilliant bass clarinet playing.
Although Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery does not end with the fury that it begins with, this is not to say that it loses its energy. In fact, the deeply spiritual playing from Hutchings on “The Universe Wakes Up” suggests exactly the opposite. This album is an instant argument winner against anyone who says that jazz music is stagnant. Although there may be some who stubbornly refuse to classify this music as jazz altogether, genre labels are far from the point – this band is a great example of how the creative lineage of the music is still alive.
Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, the latest album from The Comet is Coming, is out now on Impulse Records.
Brian Kiwanuka is a writer‚ attorney and music nerd but not in that order. He digs Armand Hammer‚ Alice Coltrane and Stevie Wonder and occasionally subjects his friends to detailed rants about music. You can check out more of his writing on 93 Million Miles Above.