The Comet is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion (Impulse!/digital outlets)

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The Comet is Coming: Hyper-Dimensional Expansion (Impulse!/digital outlets)

Of all the British outfits in the new wave of jazz-meets-grime/Afro-futurism/hip-hop/rock/whathaveyou, The Comet is Coming generated the most excitement.

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings was very much a mover and shaper of the London jazz scene and when alongside drummer Betamax and synth player Danalogue some real magic happened.

That said, and although Elsewhere was enthusiastic about two of their albums, one line at the end perhaps said more than we realised, “signature sound of melodic repetition again binds much of this together”.

That observation over time started to feel like an accusation, especially when we heard albums by saxophonist Nubya Garcia and Nerija which were terrific. The women had it all over the men when it came to inventive expression.

This new Comet album again shudders to a halt on that melodic repetition from Hutchings who certainly conveys a furious energy in these sessions recorded over a few days at Peter Gabriel's studio but no amount of beats and digital manipulation can draw attention to Hutchings' often limited – deliberately or otherwise – vocabulary on fiery music which becomes circular.

There is some terrific playing and material across these 11 pieces (the rock attack of the opener Code sets a high bar of expectation) but then there is the melodic dead-end of Pyramids which is rather more typical.

In other places the opportunities are explored after the repetition has been dispensed with, as on the increasingly interesting multi-tracked Frequency of Feeling.

The sonic landscape of Angel of Darkness is a eerily exciting sound design for a very dark sci-fi flick which grinds to a place of tension towards the end of its seven intense minutes.

There's plenty of energy and shadow-boxing throughout by Hutchings but at times he seems to pull back from the heavy lifting that the rhythm section is laying down.

And to argue the case for minimalism here is to simply admit – in rather more fancy language – that opportunities go begging.

.

You can hear this album at Spotify here



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