Identified as Betamax Killer, Danalogue the Conqueror, and King Shabaka — aliases of drummer Maxwell Hallett, keyboardist Dan Leavers, and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings — the Comet Is Coming describe their sound as “apocalyptic space funk,” consciously and purposefully melding jazz, funk, electronica, psychedelia, hip-hop, and improvisation. Named after a BBC Radiophonic Workshop recording, the boundary-shattering trio woodshedded for a few months and emerged fully formed on South London’s fertile, highly collaborative, slipstream jazz scene and began recording almost immediately. Signed to Leaf, they issued the acclaimed EP Prophecy in 2015 and followed with their debut long-player Channel the Spirits in 2016; it was nominated for the Mercury Prize. The trio signed to Impulse Records two years later and released Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery in the winter of 2019. Following the pandemic, a tour, and studio experimentation, they returned with Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam in 2022.
The London-based musicians had several outlets prior to their 2013 formation and were involved in a number of concurrent projects. The Comet Is Coming was formed that year after the duo Soccer96 — Betamax Killer and Danalogue the Conqueror — were playing a gig and spotted “a tall shadowy figure” hanging out near the stage with a saxophone in hand. They invited him up to play and delivered their first completely improvised set. Received enthusiastically by the audience, they decided to form the Comet Is Coming to explore their mutual love of Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix, John and Alice Coltrane, Can, Mahavishnu Orchestra, techno, house, grime, and future-forward hip-hop. Besides Hallett and Leavers’ Soccer96, Hutchings performed and recorded with Melt Yourself Down, Sons of Kemet, and other groups. Emboldened by jam sessions, the Comet Is Coming signed to the Leaf Label, where they issued Prophecy, an intensely rhythmic and animated EP of five mostly concise tracks, in November 2015. Their debut full-length, 2016′s Channel the Spirits, further consolidated the band’s reputation as a raucous, hard-hitting intergalactic groove machine with strong apocalyptic tendencies and was short-listed for Great Britain’s Mercury Prize.
After Sons of Kemet issued their charting Impulse! debut Your Queen Is a Reptile in 2018, the label also signed the Comet Is Coming. The future jazz outlaws re-entered the studio and emerged with their label debut, Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery, early the following year. According to the trio, it was “a 21st century take on spiritual jazz that is part Alice Coltrane, part Blade Runner,” and featured a vocal performance from guest Kate Tempest on first single “Blood of the Past.” They followed the set with a companion EP entitled The Afterlife in the fall.
After spending all of 2020 sidelined by the pandemic, the trio began playing shows again across 2021. The following year they entered Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio and cut the self-produced full-length Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam; it was released by Impulse in September 2022. ~ Andy Kellman