Image by Fabrice Bourgelle
More often than not, the ‘token jazz entry’ for the Mercury Music Prize feels like something of an afterthought. Not so last year: Channel The Spirits by The Comet Is Coming was a thrilling, dancefloor-focussed fusion of beats and modern jazz, steeped in the Afro-futurism of Sun Ra and full of high concept sci-fi references and a quintessentially cosmic vibe.
The band are a three-piece – Danalogue The Conqueror and Betamax Killer were in Newcastle a couple of weeks back in their Soccer 96 incarnation, whilst the restlessly collaborative “King” Shabaka Hutchings is a member of the incestuous London jazz community through his membership of acts like Sons Of Kemet and Melt Yourself Down. That he’s also an occasional member of the still extant Arkestra, which has carried on Sun Ra’s legacy since his final trip to Saturn, further cements the trio’s pedigree.
With a new single Final Eclipse out now ahead of an imminent EP, The Comet Is Coming hit Newcastle on Thursday for a North The Wall gig that features the O.T.T., festival friendly ‘cosmic dross’ of Manchester’s Henge and Ponyland, another off-kilter fusion outfit featuring Lancashire’s very own Sun Ra, Paddy Steer.