Album Review: The Comet is Coming – Channel The Spirits [The Leaf Label, 1st April 2016]

When the sound of a band needs more than one word to be defined, it’s usually a good sign.

The Comet is Coming’s new album Channel The Spirits slips between the borders of very different genres – jazz, acid, electronica, psychedelic rock, shaping the band’s very own definition of sound into something new, unpredictable and exciting.

The London-based band, born as an experiment from the encounter of members of Soccer 96 Max Hallet and Dan Leavers with saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, quickly became an actual project when the three decided to make a record together, gathering hours of recorded music in just three days.

Without a doubt, the three elements of the band make for a perfect fit. The exciting and often hectic drums give every track an irresistible drive, while the synths provide the listener with extraordinary sounds and evocative, yet hypnotic melodies of all sorts, ranging from a heavily distorted bass to laser-like bleeping noises. Together the two are able to create stunning climaxes and sudden changes in the mood throughout the same song.

On top of these complex, ever-changing soundscapes comes kind Shabaka’s saxophone, leading with its kaleidoscopic melodies, whose mood seamlessly swings from hypnotic, almost obsessive to placid and dreamlike, and back.

The outcome is indeed something unique. Everything, from each sound to the music videos, track titles and album cover, revolves around the imagery of outer space. Each song seems to recall and musically describe something we might be watching from the porthole of our own spaceship – a shrinking blackhole, a swamping asteroid storm, the pulsing heart of galaxy not so far away. At times you might hear an engine starting, a meteorite passing by, a sudden mechanical failure and the system going haywire.

Channel The Spirits kicks in with a true explosion of pure energy in Space Carnival, one of the most dynamic tracks of the whole album. The relentless rhythm and overwhelming groove makes you want to move every bit of your body to what sounds like the wild celebration of a tribe from a remote planet.

A few tracks later, New Age suddenly teleports us in the cockpit of our space capsule where we hear frenzied beeps and bleeps produced by our control station. On ‘5’27’’, the piece grows into an increasingly suggestive sound journey that feels like a perfect soundtrack for the exploration of the empty and unknown.

On track number 8, ‘Star Furnace’, one can appreciate the band’s talent in moulding wholly different atmospheres and blending them into one consistently beautiful experience. In just a few seconds our spaceship is thrown right into a storm of fiery meteorites and we glide through fire and flames for a few minutes until we find a way out back to the peaceful atmosphere of outer space.

The voice of British poet and songwriter Joshua Idehen is the only collaboration on the album and undoubtedly a precious one. ‘Lightyears’ evokes a noisy city by night where Idehen’s sharp, raging words echo on a soundscape of clanging noises and cacophony, making this track a very unique piece of the project.

As the last song ends, we are left suspended, not sure if our exploration of the galaxy has come to an end. Nevertheless if we feel that there is more out there to be discovered, we simply have to press play one more time.