ACL Live Review: The Comet Is Coming
Prophecy or promise?
By Thomas Fawcett,
10:00AM, Sat. Oct. 5, 2019
Emerging from London’s bubbling jazz scene, the Comet Is Coming assaulted ACL Fest ears, feet, and whole bodies with a captivating elixir of cosmic jazz, funk, and electro inside the Tito’s tent on Friday around dinnertime.
While the UK trio certainly draws from the astral oddities of Sixties-era Saturn descendent Sun Ra and his Arkestra, their joyful riot of sound is decidedly forward-looking – and bangin’. They’re the rare jazz-based ensemble that elicits furious head-banging and pogoing.
Keyboardist and synth-lord Dan "Danalogue" Leavers and drummer Max “Betamax” Hallett lay an unshakeable foundation, playing in lock-step to craft an absolutely thumping backbeat. That low-end theory serves as a playground for saxophonist “King” Shabaka Hutchings, who unleashes furious, oft-repeated riffs and blistering solos. At one point, screeching sax and a tornado of keys crescendoed and vanished with a synth bass that dropped like a kick to the sternum.
While improvisational, the set largely pulled from 2019 Impulse LP Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery. In as much as instrumental experimental jazz trios can have hits, the pulsating “Summon the Fire” is that for the Comet Is Coming. A four-minute cut on the album, it seemed to stretch to 20 minutes onstage, although it can be hard to discern where one song ends and another begins.
So it goes on a space jazz odyssey exploring disparate galaxies of rhythm and sound.
Not much for stage banter, the band exited with a quick, “The Comet Is Coming, thank you.” For the uninitiated, it may have been a mystery whether that closing was band name or prophecy. Maybe it was both.