England's sci-fi jazz trio the Comet Is Coming have been exploring the cosmos since 2015 when drummer Maxwell Hallett (Betamax) and keyboardist Dan Leavers (Danalogue) were playing a gig as futurist duo Soccer96 when they encountered Shabaka Hutchings (King Shabaka) hanging near the stage with a saxophone. They invited him up and improvised. Received enthusiastically, the trio formed the Comet Is Coming to explore a mutual love of Sun Ra, John and Alice Coltrane, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and future-forward electronica. After issuing the critically acclaimed Prophecy EP in 2015, they followed with the full-length Channel the Spirits a year later and were nominated for the Mercury Prize. Hutchings, one of the U.K.'s most prominent young saxophonists and bandleaders, inked a deal with Impulse! in 2017. His Sons of Kemet project's acclaimed Your Queen Is a Reptile in 2018, a stellar work of modern modal jazz, was internationally acclaimed. Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery picks up where Channel the Spirits and its follow-up EP Death to the Planet left off as it attempts to "envisage a 21st century take on spiritual jazz that is part Alice Coltrane, part Blade Runner." Their association with the legendary American label -- home to many of their influences -- raises expectations that are both warranted and met.
As evidenced by album-opener "Because the End Is Really the Beginning," these cats have no interest in revivalism; theirs is an evolutionary new thing. A blissful synth drone introduces Hutchings' hypnotic sax before shifting into a more dynamic space as Betamax's cymbal shimmer and kick drum pronunciations signal the arrival of the previously unknown. It remains held in a state of tension before "Birth of Creation," prefaced by the rhythm section, articulates a frame for Hutchings' spidery bass clarinet melody that builds on their multidimensional textures. "Summon the Fire" sounds like its title. Amid pulsing analog synths, Hutchings' distorted tenor horn meets Betamax's overdriven snare in a show of pulsing, hard grooves, and the entire record lifts off in an orgiastic celebration of grime-influenced, danceable destruction and creation. "Blood of the Past" is darker, tenser, and freer, given added dimension via the apocalyptic poetry of guest Kate Tempest. An airy intro gives way to skittering, urgent, dubby electro funk in "Super Zodiac." "Timewave Zero" enters from the margins in a soundscape at once cinematic and intimate before articulating a fusion of spiritual jazz-funk, dancehall rhythms, and punky grime. "The Universe Wakes Up" closes the set and atmospherically evokes the spirits of the Coltranes as CIC attempt to reach beyond the heavens. Hutchings' circular breathing underscores the aggressive pulse of the rhythm section. Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery is urgent, sophisticated, and humorous. It actually delivers the music of tomorrow via the traditions of past and present; it's a convulsive exercise in the articulation of inner and outer space.