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The combination of jazz musicians with electronic artists has always had a checkered history. For every project that successfully blends creative programming with improvisation there are ten more than sound like bland background music with sleeping musicians and rhythms as stiff as a concrete slab. As evidenced by fourth LP Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam, London’s The Comet is Coming is a different beast, however. That’s partly because saxophonist King Shabaka, AKA British sax god Shabaka Hutchings, worries less about spinning off dizzying solos and more about laying down memorable riffs. But it’s also because, while there are plenty of synthesized sounds, they’re mostly played live, rather than programmed. Keyboardist Danalogue and drummer Betamax seemingly grow extra limbs in order to lay down the multi-colored sounds supporting Shabaka, painting busy backgrounds that nonetheless push forward as one united force. Finally, the trio puts as much energy into recording as they do into their breathless performances – the power and excitement is such that even atmospheric tracks like “Lucid Dreamer” maintain a momentum similar to powerhouses like “Angel of Darkness” and “Technicolour.” With a group of exceptionally talented pals gathering to make music for self-expression, TCIC is like any other jazz band – no strings, no limits, but plenty of passion and joy in simply making noise in real time.
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