The thing about The Comet Is Coming is that you can never be sure where they will take you. The London-based cosmic jazz rave trio burst to life repeatedly at festivals and unlikely venues across the country and the world, before retreating, researching their own existential and hyperreal futures, and exploding onto the scene once more to take us along for the ride.
With their third studio album, following 2019's robust 'Trust In The Life Force Of the Deep Mystery' and Mercury Prize-nominated debut (2016's 'Channel the Spirits'), the message is just as forceful, the journey just as fun, if a little more spacious. That's a good thing: the band's greatest asset and sometimes fatal flaw is just how furiously talented all three musicians - Dan "Danalogue" Leavers on synths, Shabaka Hutchings ("King Shabaka") on saxophone and Max "Betamax" Hallett on drums - are, making it easy to get carried away in sprawling, improvised solos without realising all your passengers have jumped ship.
graphics by Veil Projects
'Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam' at once goes faster and harder than before, while leaving space for listeners and live audiences to draw their own conclusions too. Some of the most storming dancefloor music the band have ever made welcomes us in on defiant opener 'Code', which you can already see setting a crowd on fire next summer. That feverish energy is matched in 'Pyramids', finding Danalogue (this album's maestro, where Shabaka has often taken centre stage in the past) at his best.
The record was written and recorded in four days right out of lockdown in Peter Gabriel's Real World studio in the English countryside, and that sense of claustrophobia and pent-up energy is palpable. It climaxes with 'Atomic Wave Dance', all three musicians more in sync than ever, showing just how much power each holds when they do choose to align. There are still moments of discordant pleasure, which will inevitably transform at every live show, in the sprawling and sinister 'Angel of Darkness' that finds Shabaka at his most unpredictable - inevitably leading to moments of suffocating excess, but he always brings it back.
This is the sound of a band at their most confident, capable of still pushing the boundaries they seemingly reimagined years ago without overwhelming audiences with their own love for endless improvisation. There are no lyrics on this album, but it feels like you can hear these three musicians louder than ever. Their mission is ongoing, this electric journey through the atmosphere still skyrocketing.
Details Release date: September 23 Record label: Impulse