The Comet Is Coming: Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Impulse!)

A review of the second full-length album from the psychedelic jazz band

Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery,
The cover of Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery by The Comet Is Coming

Submerged in Sun Ra’s Afro-cosmological vision, The Comet Is Coming’s brand of psychedelic jazz on their second full-length album sounds like it’s been fused with soundtrack music by Tangerine Dream. Synthesist Danalogue (Dan Leavers) tends toward old-school analog axes. Combine them with King Shabaka’s (Shabaka Hutchings) sax and bass clarinet hypno-vamps and Betamax’s (Max Hallett) sampled drum loops, and Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery is trance-inducing.

That may not sound like praise within the restless matrix of jazz, but it works. TCiC’s London jazz scene has deep roots in the city’s underground dance clubs, and Barbadian leader Hutchings grew up on the Caribbean’s intoxicating rhythmic patterns. The relentless repetitions throughout “Summon the Fire” are no less intense for being such—if anything, King Shabaka’s overmiked tenor gains momentum, and ferocity with it. Ditto “Timewave Zero,” with its punching-bag onslaught, and “Blood of the Past,” which is amplified by the chainsaw-like buzz of Danalogue’s Roland Jupiter 4 before Kate Tempest’s commanding poetry takes over.

“Super Zodiac” works itself into a frenzy, Betamax’s beats thudding past like rifle fire, with alluring drones from the Jupiter 4 (complete with that wobble you always thought was your cassette player’s fault). Of course, it’s not all about intensity. The opening “Because the End Is Really the Beginning” is a warm wash of synth and sax.

Hutchings has in just a few years become a major force in jazz, partly by reminding us what vitality can come out of a mesmerizing groove. Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery could have used some more linear improvisations, if only to prove that real, live humans are back there. But that’s no reason to change a delicious recipe—even if it does sound weirdly like cues from Three O’Clock High.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.