The Comet is Coming - Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (Impulse!)

The Comet is Coming – Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (Impulse!)

The wait’s been three years long, but Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam, the next album from London’s Mercury Prize nominated synth-sax-drum trio The Comet is Coming is now released. One of the mainstays of the current jazz resurgence coming out of the UK, alongside names like Sons of Kemet, Melt Yourself Down and Kamal Williams, The Comet is Coming have been providing us with their very own explosive take on electronic jazz since 2016. Bandleader and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has graced the stage with Sun-Ra Arkestra many times in recent years and this influence is more than obvious – The Comet is Coming’s sound and aesthetic can be summed up as Sun-Ra’s intergalactic, afro-futurist philosophy digitalised for the 21st Century, a kind of cosmic jazz for the rave generation.

The bones of Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam were put down in four days of ‘collective intuition, sheer skill, and transcendent improvisation’ at Peter Gabriel‘s Real World Studio, then the results taken away and meticulously self-produced. There is an alchemy that happens when Dan (Danalogue) Leavers, Shabaka, and Max (Betamax) Hallett’s talent for jazz improvisation melds together with their attention to detail at production level, creating music that is both technically tight and brimming over with freeform energy. This album is fully instrumental, and whilst I miss the texture vocals have added to The Comet is Coming’s previous releases, their omission does allow that alchemy to shine through even more.

The record opens with lead single ‘Code‘, which was released in July. It’s an old-skool-rave driven, sax-riff-filled wig-out which is quintessentially theirs; perfectly suited to become a staple of their future set encores. ‘Code‘ is immediately followed by the next two singles; the more downtempo ‘Technicolour‘ and ‘Lucid Dreamer‘. The album continues to lead us on a journey that takes in both sides of The Comet is Coming coin, but the quieter moments often fail to hold my attention. They are pleasant, and technically spot on, but the tracks that really stand out are those designed with huge bass bins and dancefloors in mind. It’s in the trance-inducing, building intensity and then celestial release of tracks like ‘Code‘, ‘Pyramid‘, ‘Atomic Wave Dance‘ and ‘Mystik‘ where the magic really lies.

If you love The Comet is Coming’s back catalogue, this is an album that won’t disappoint. But if you’ve come to it expecting to hear new, unexpected directions, don’t expect any. But maybe that’s okay – they have mastered what launching off on an interplanetary voyage to utopia in the 21st century probably sounds like, and maybe that is just what we need a lot more of right now, considering the state of planet Earth. If space really is the place, The Comet is Coming are continuing to lead the way there.

Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam is out on Impulse! Records on Friday 23rd September.

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