The Comet Is Coming

The Afterlife

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For the second time in 2019, England's spiritual sci-fi jazz trio the Comet Is Coming lay out their dystopian vision of earth with a provocative, hybrid evolutionary "new thing" music that melds electronica, soulful out-jazz, spidery funk, swampy dub, and prophetic poetry. Cut during the same sessions as Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, it's not a collection of outtakes or even a sequel, but a holistic mirror image that comes from the same sphere of aesthetic investigation and font of inspiration. According to the band, "…These two records can be seen as companions that cannot exist without each other, like day and night, light and dark, creation and destruction. They were made together, at the same time, and have always been intended to be experienced together."

At nearly eight minutes, "All That Matters Is the Moments" is one of the set's longest cuts. It's introduced by sweeping outer space electronics and Shabaka Hutchings' spiraling tenor sax playing a cosmic, spiritual blues solo before guest poet Joshua Idehen begins his prophetic dissemblage above Dan "Danalogue" Leavers' low-tuned, fuzzed-out, dubwise bassline and Max "Betamax” Hallett's Nyabinghi-style tom-tom and cymbal drumming. After Idehen delivers a spiky prediction amid the notion that what he's doing is "daydreaming of a world I won't live to see," he offers a glimmer of hope as he speaks of holding onto cherished memories of the friendships that came during times of loss and destruction. King Shabaka's tenor horn slices in and wails the blues amid phase-shifted atmospherics and layered electronic textures fusing future jazz and reggae. "The Softness of the Present" stands in pillowy contrast as its interlocking grooves of layered keyboards and rolling snare frame Hutchings' hypnotic, melodic, Nigerian-inspired melody. The set shifts again in the title track's amorphous darkness informed by atmospheric and dynamic hints of menace via a minimalist, hypnotic four-note sax line, sine-wave oscillations, synth and organ ostinatos, and doomy drumming (reminiscent of Martin Hannett's production on Joy Division's Closer). The two-part "Lifeforce" is introduced by beeps and space blips, wafting keyboard chord voicings, and rolling cymbals and snares. Hutchings practices circular breathing in a seemingly unending flurry of insistent yet melancholy notes that crisscross Albert Ayler, Roland Kirk, and John Coltrane during the first half. Its latter part is an insistent, funky, pulsing rhythmic stomp using all the same elements. Closer "The Seven Planetary Heavens" is a processional, its slow march punctuated by slow, sweeping lyricism in a pronounced series of changes that highlight tension and release via the rhythm section's canny interplay and wonky Danalogue electronics. It eventually breaks wide open, signaling that the end of one thing -- cultures, planets, stars, galaxies -- always gives birth to another through disruption and evolution. Suffice to say, it, like Afterlife as a whole, ends in a very different place from where it began, leaving the listener to wonder if it's the introduction to Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, or a provocative new beginning altogether.

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