Sci-Fi Jazz from The Comet Is Coming and the cheeky cover of The Anal Staircase from Coil by Soft Pink Truth
The comet is coming, “Code” (Impulse!)
It’s only natural to mourn the passing of Sons of Kemet, the mighty London avant-jazz band fronted by saxophonist/clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings and who, by the way, just played KEXP’s 50th anniversary party at the Seattle Center . But the sadness dissipates once you realize that this busy musician theoretically has more time to devote to Comet Is Coming, as well as about half a dozen other less-publicized projects.
Generally speaking, Comet Is Coming incorporates more psychedelic electronic sounds into their instrumental tracks than Sons of Kemet, and their overall thrust leans more towards the cosmic end of the jazz and dance music worlds. For TCIC, fusion is their natural habitat, but it’s not so much about showcasing virtuosity in the style of 70s jazz fusion as it is about finding new and hybrid modes with which to express transcendent spirituality…and without using a singer.
To that end, they’ve had plenty of success, including on their fourth and final album, Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam (recorded at deluxe studio, founded by Peter Gabriel, Real World Studios, released September 23). The 11 tracks offer further proof that we are on the rise in jazz, and Hutchings continues to be one of the main catalysts in helping the genre spread to young people who are perhaps more immersed in hip-hop, rave music and psychedelic rock than the mythical gear that is the Impulse! Records (TCIC’s label) is usually champion.
“Code” is Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam’talk. He patrols his domain with militaristic vigilance, propelled by the pugilistic and industrial rock rhythms of Max “Betamax” Hallett. On saxophone, Hutchings blasts his trusty staccato fanfares that should have crowds roaring as keyboardist Dan “Danalog” Leavers lays down an indomitable low-end riff. Soaring female backing vocals (likely sampled) give this track an angelic, heroic sheen, adding the finishing touch to a track that could mark the climactic scene of a sci-fi thriller.
The Comet Is Coming will perform on Friday September 30 at the Crocodile.
The Soft Pink Truth, “The Anal Staircase” (Thrill Jockey)
The original 1986 version of “The Anal Staircase” by British occult band Coil swept the floor with whipping beats, maniacally tinkling bells and panics. psychology-the strings of the soundtrack as John Balance groaned: “Angels embrace our souls in bliss/Measure the extent of our descent/Descent of the anal staircase.” Frankly speaking, this song advocates the transcendent qualities of anal sex. Coil was managed by Balance and former Throbbing Gristle member Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, a gay couple who made transgressive music from 1984 until 2004, the year the former died.
Drew Daniel, the author of the mutant house project The Soft Pink Truth, also performs in the band Matmos with longtime partner MC Schmidt and wrote a 33 1/3 book on Throbbing Gristle’s 20 The greats of jazz funk. So it only makes sense that Daniel would cover one of Coil’s definitive works. It may be a tribute to a queer hero and creative inspiration, but the cover of Soft Pink Truth’s “The Anal Staircase” forgoes direct reverence for clever reinvention and interpretation.
If you delve into the back catalog of Soft Pink Truth, you can’t help but notice Daniel’s sly subversions of genre tropes, whether it’s disco, punk, black metal, or music. ‘IDM. The new four-track EP Was it still real? (out now on CD and cassette) on which “The Anal Staircase” appears crosses familiar TPS territory; it evokes the non-conformist, voice-centric microhouse and ambient styles that have tickled the high IQ of discerning listeners since the late 90s. It’s SPT’s most focused release to date, emphasizing the pleasure principle before everything. Close listening reveals a wealth of psychedelic minutiae in the DNA of Soft Pink Truth’s music, as is the case with Coil’s work.
The Soft Pink Truth’s version of “The Anal Staircase” replaces the angsty undercurrents of the original with a bloody bassline, more hedonistic and dynamic beats, and massive vocals that sound more celebratory than the defiant delivery of Balance. In the second half of the track, the sound becomes more distorted and Tripp Trapp Trull’s sax, trombone and trumpet add compelling urgency, but Daniel still retains Coil’s knack for inserting intriguing sonic ectoplasm between the grooves. The rendition of The Soft Pink Truth could be interpreted as a sonic evocation of the progress queer people have made over the past 36 years – and/or simply a thoughtful tribute to influential and transgressive musicians whose work should be much better. known.
Was it still real? is part of the Thrill Jockey 30th Anniversary Limited Edition Special Series.