The Mercury Prize’s Least Well-Known Nominee – Who Are The Comet Is Coming?

Opening The Comet Is Coming’s Mercury-nominated album ‘Channel The Spirits’ is two minutes of spaceship-style bleeping, some reverb-heavy saxophone, and synths that’ll try their best to prise open your pupils. This track, ‘The Prophecy’, sets the tone for the cosmic instrumental experience that follows. Released on April 1, ‘Channel The Spirits’ combines tribal rhythms with wild synth and funky jazz saxophone: it’s a fine chunk of Afrofuturism.

It’s also the most unrecognisable album on the Mercury shortlist. The Sun Ra-loving trio is based in London and, on The Leaf Label, are labelmates with Caribou and Efterklang!. They’re formed of saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings (aka King Shabaka), and the two members of Soccer96: synths guy Dan Leavers (aka Danalogue The Conqueror) and drums man Maxwell Hallett (aka Betamax Killer). Here they are, looking all mysterious:

The way the three began is a serendipitous story: Shabaka, a frequent attendee of Soccer96’s gigs, eventually sidled up to the stage at one with his saxophone in hand. “When he got up on stage to play with us,” Hallett says, “it created an explosive shockwave of energy that stunned us all.”

That’s certainly the vibe you get from tracks like ‘Journey Through The Asteroid Belt’ and ‘Star Furnace’. We’ll leave you with the album stream – and a comment on it from the band themselves: “Marvel! As it blazes a streak of phosphorescent beauty across the night sky. Listen! As a trailing meteor shower drops hot coals hissing into topographical oceans. Inhale! The burning funk of strange new flavours. The sound of the future… today.”