Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam
Ever since 2013, when Sons of Kemet saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings first leaped onstage to join synth-and-drums duo Soccer96 in a spontaneous explosion of pure groove, the three musicians have been honing their gale-force attack. Dubbed The Comet Is Coming, the trio—Hutchings, drummer Max Hallett, and synth player Dan Leavers—first laid out its double-barreled jazz-dance fusion on 2016’s Channel the Spirits, then gave free rein to more psychedelic urges on 2019’s Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery and The Afterlife, which followed six months later. With Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam, The Comet Is Coming delivers its biggest, most expansive record yet. Part of that might stem from recording at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, where the three musicians tracked four days of improv sessions that Hallett and Leavers subsequently reworked into these 11 powerhouse jams. In contrast to the previous two albums’ star-gazing tendencies, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam unleashes a focused blast of energy with the opening “CODE,” with Hutchings meting out stabbing arpeggios over the rhythm section’s heads-down stomp. They expand their range with every track. “TECHNICOLOUR” is a slinky detour into liquid funk, and “LUCID DREAMER” drifts on a cloud of ambient soul; album highlight “PYRAMIDS” taps the tunnel-vision intensity of early-2000s techno. “ATOMIC WAVE DANCE” is another big one, with spiky sax riffs set against jagged arpeggios and a driving 4/4 beat, while on “AFTERMATH,” they pursue krautrock down an almost ambient path. And listeners pining for the last albums’ offworld vibes will find an escape pod in the form of “ANGEL OF DARKNESS,” an unrestrained journey to their cosmic-jazz limits. The Comet Is Coming has never sounded tighter—or freer—than they do here.