Combining elements of jazz, Afro-beat and electronica in a cosmic and apocalyptic brew, The Comet Is Coming are the Saturday night headliner at the 2017 Wellington Jazz Festival. Nick Bollinger caught up with the trio on the eve of their performance.
If the name The Comet Is Coming has both cosmic and apocalyptic overtones, it perfectly matches the music made by the London-based trio.
It was found on the back of an old record in a vinyl library downstairs from where the band was rehearsing, and seemed to fit.
“Since then I’ve rationalised it more,” says keyboard player Danalogue The Conqueror (Dan Leavers.) “You can start thinking about what turns you on musically, and maybe it is this apocalyptic notion and the intense bursts of energy you get from stars exploding and creating loads of chaotic matter that breeds all life.”
Betamax Killer (Max Hallet) adds: “Space for me is about having the broadest perspective of anything. When you zoom out into space you see the whole picture of our actual position. It’s that big picture of looking at music – or looking at the world – as a whole”.
Danalogue: “When you think about leaving the planet, all the possibilities of music, anywhere – then you can’t go wrong ‘cause you’re like, ‘This is the music of the place that we know that we go to and we know what it sounds like and it sounds like this.’
King Shabaka (Shabaka Hutchings) brings to the Comet some of the experience he had as a sometime-member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, the big band led for 40 years by composer and cosmic philosopher Sun Ra, which continues to this day under the stewardship of 93-year-old Marshall Allen.
“It’s got some very, very disparate personalities, in some ways its very chaotic, but it all works,” Hutchings reflects. “Individuals are allowed to actually be themselves but it is not a bunch of individuals without a central aim. Everyone knows what the music is.”