I have been very fortunate to see The Comet is Coming live twice in the past few years. The first time was at the Liverpool PsychFest in 2017, in which they certainly enlivened me with as post-midnight set that got the whole place jumping. That night they were the third of three, along with The Baltic Fleet and Sex Swing, that in retrospect probably set me on a course to towards new musical horizons that are more eclectic, challenging and in many ways more life-affirming. It was a joyous evening as I remember it… and certainly had me leaving the PsychFest on a high (and at the time of writing there is sadly no sign of the festival returning). I’ll come back to this in a moment.
The second time I saw the band was a few weeks ago at The Village Underground. I made a rare trip down to London buoyed by the idea of seeing Kamasi Washington and The Comet is Coming on successive nights, a decision I am so grateful that I made. Both gigs were marvellous in their own way, with Moses Boyd’s band support of Washington only adding to the excellence of the few days. So while the former evening was all about an established band coming into town and wowing it’s audience with a tour de force of musicianship in the context of powerful political and spiritual ideas; The Comet is Coming gig had the feel of a band at the cutting edge breaking through… a band that was riding a wave… something that was confirmed by the posters around the venue for the next London gig headlining the Shepherds Bush Empire.
Both these recent gigs, like that night in Liverpool, were also life-affirming for me… they took me to highs that only the best gigs can. But there was something else about The Comet is Coming gig, maybe it was just that feeling of being there at a significant moment in the band’s development, just before the launch of this, their second album. I think there was more to it than that though, and this is something that lies in the band’s manifesto:
The Comet is Coming to destroy illusions. It will manifest new realities, perceptions, levels of awareness and abilities to coexist. It is a musical expression forged in the deep mystery. It is the overcoming of fear, the embracing of chaos, the peripheral sight that we might summon the fire. Through the transcendent experience of music, we reconnect with the energy of the Lifeforce in hope of manifesting higher realities in new constructs. Because the end is only really the beginning.
While on the surface this sounds somewhat apocalyptic, the music would suggest otherwise… as did Danalogue (synth/ keys) explained on a number of occasions at the latest gig… treat life as if the Comet is Coming… take opportunities when they come and live life to the full because even if not literally, any number of comets could be symbolically about to hit.
What I loved about this gig, and the album reflects this, is that there were so many moods during the course of around the ninety minutes of its duration… there was the improvisation and solos of a jazz performance… the transcendental power of a numinal experience (I never got to se Alice Coltrane or Sun Ra but this is the sort of vibe I imagine)… at other times the pulsating twin beats of synths and drums took me back to the raves of times gone by…
At the end of the gig vinyl copies of the new album were flying off the merch table… something I expect to be repeated in shops around the country. It opens with what feels like an overture in ”Because The End Is Really The Beginning’, the sense of a new start after everything has been swept away before… the calm after the storm… a positive outlook… towards renewal… hope… things that seem in short supply at the moment.
‘The Birth of Creation’ opening with King Shakaba’s sax which almost acts as a guide through a series of beats and percussive elements that are every often punctuated with sonic highs before returning to a more mundane beat. With this established the album takes off massively with ‘Summon The Fire’, a real dance track which blows me away with its sheer depth an force… all three elements of the band working as one taking us to high after high, with Betamax’s drums acting as both the control and catalyst for the other two to really let rip.
It is difficult to imagine anyone following that, but they do with a darker and, if anything, more intense number (‘Blood of the Past’) which thrusts its way forward in a deep and purposeful manner… attributes which almost go off the scale when Kate Tempest breaks in with a monologue which, for me, tells us why the comet should come. “There is a scar on the soul of the world”, she intones… one that only something very radical can heal. This feels very much like the centrepiece of the album, and is hugely consequential in terms of understanding the band’s worldview.
After that ‘Super Zodiac’ lifts us off into the stars once again… it’s hard to describe how uplifting this number feels. After the diagnosis of ‘Blood of the Past’ here’s the way forward… a track that is simply sublime …one that I just want to listen to time and time again… a track that feels like some sort of sonic armour. This leads into ‘Astral Flying’ which takes things down a notch into a more reflective ‘space/ jazz’ vibe… it’s a great comedown after the drama of the three previous numbers allowing a more calm contemplative moment which is nigh on essential here.
If anything ‘Timewave Zero’ takes us into deeper space with it’s drum n’ bass beat combining with the sax in a way that seeks to take us to new highs, while ‘Unity’ takes us to a utopian dream with probably the warmest track here… on it’s own a marvellous number to just kick back to, while in the context of the album something of a wonderful destination.
This is topped off with ‘The Universe Wakes Up’… the utopian dream is embedded and the blood of the past has drained away. We arrive in a land, or is it a state of mind, that is harmonious, fresh and full of possibility. It’s a track that finishes off an album that is as much for our times as any other, but in the context of where were are now does feel right on point offering us hope that out of what looks like a disaster could emerge a brave new world…
We only have to let go of the old one first, just trust in the lifeforce of the deep mystery.
‘Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery’ is released by Impulse Records.
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