“There is nothing but progress to eat, and we are so fat, and so hungry,” Kate Tempest says, a clear-eyed seer in the middle of a maelstrom, halfway through “Blood of the Past,” the stunning, jaw-dehinging standout on Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery, the second LP from U.K. jazz power trio the Comet Is Coming. Tempest’s words are the only heard on the LP, but they serve as much of a manifesto as the band’s name; the times are shite, and the end is nigh. The future is going to be worse than we probably imagine, and the apps have made our lives worse. But the group is not about morose death marches. They face down the end times with radical space-jazz and celestial funk, a record full of songs that you feel in your body and sound like they’re physically sweating. There’s no record that’s this complicated and complex and easy to dance to this year than this one.
The Comet is Coming is made up of Dan Leavers on synths, keys and points between, Max Hallett on drums and Shabaka Hutchings on sax and clarinet. Hutchings gets all the publicity, and for good reason; he’s poised to be the U.K. jazz scene’s answer for Kamasi Washington, a singular genius taking a pickaxe to the jazz canon and remaking it in his own vision. One of Hutchings’ groups, the Sons of Kemet, made one of 2018’s most singular jazz albums (Your Queen Is A Reptile), and he does that again here. But as much as this is the Hutchings show — his reeds serve as lead singer, klaxon and ringleader — the songs on Trust In work because of the bedrock, simpatico work of Hallett and Leavers. “Super Zodiac” features some of Hutchings’ most forceful work on the album, but underneath his repeating, towering figures, the synths and drums are like a Tron bike, driving the music off the grid into the unknown. The lockstep, laid-back grooves of “Unity” go from drum-circle to slow jam and back again, while the slithering “Birth of Creation” is all open space, a testament to how you can show restraint and still build a spooky, perilous sonic space.
Back to “Blood of the Past”: It’s the funkiest funeral this side of New Orleans, a climbing, thumping track that has Tempest — a celebrated poet and spoken word artist — serve as its preacher. It’s a fiery verse that covers all the ground, from how modern architecture and its windows that don’t open and our animal routines keep us boxed in to how advertising is basically just making us feel bad for our urges. Hutchings answers Tempest’s words with his fiercest solo, and Leavers’ synth lines are rigged to implode stadiums. It’s an overwhelming musical experience on an album full of them. Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery is this year’s best jazz album to take downers to, a giant wooly mammoth wrecking a telephone booth. It reimagines jazz-funk, soul jazz and electronic dance music as something from the future, always moving forward.