London-based trio The Comet is Coming present a dark and earthshaking sound with their blend of jazz, electronica and psychedelia. Shabaka Hutchings (also of Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors) plays a frenetic and chaotic saxophone over haunting and pulsing percussion from drummer Max Hallett. Swirling, psychedelic synths by Dan Leavers drown the mix, making the listener feel as if they are trapped in a jazz apocalypse dream.
Fresh off their new LP, The Afterlife, released in September on Impulse! Records, the band began a short October tour on Tuesday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. A simple stage set-up, with a lone, dim red light illuminating the drum kit center-stage awaited fans as the doors opened. With no opener, Comet quietly took the stage and began playing some lighter jazz progressions as the band was seemingly just loosening up. Then, with a loud crescendo, the band dove right into their heavy jazz rock.
The sound of The Comet is Coming stands distinctly apart from Shabaka’s other projects, and most of the modern jazz scene. The Afterlife can easily be the soundtrack for any number of cosmic apocalypse movies. It’s a raw mix of Sun Ra’s spacey sound with dance-floor ready techno percussions.
For roughly an hour and a half, the band flew in and out of tracks from all of their releases, but relying heavily on The Afterlife. There was no lull to speak of – as one song was coming to an end, one of the musicians was already looping the next track to keep a continuous flow. Each band member took their turn with a solo, which seamlessly integrated into the setlist. A simple back-lit stage cast the band in silhouette – giving the music that extra bit of ominous mystery.
The Comet is Coming have cemented their status as one of the more exciting and intriguing modern jazz bands out there. Their live show is a visceral, cathartic experience and each new release sees the band pushing their music further down the rabbit hole of underground jazz. They continue on a short run of dates in early October, ending with a stop at Austin City Limits on October 11 before heading over to Europe.