Possibly for ironic reasons, Maxwell Hallett of Coma World chose Betamax as a stage name. Aligning with an archaic consumer product that lost a culture war might seem oddly counterintuitive, but recording aficionados would know that the Sony product in actuality offered better quality, in more compact formats, though it was hindered by relatively short recording times.
Hallett ought to know about prodigious fidelity in tight units, being one third of the critically lauded jazz ensemble The Comet Is Coming, alongside apocalyptic astro-futurists “King” Shabaka Hutchings and Dan “Danalogue” Leavers. And so, like his magnetic tape namesake, here he presents 16 tracks of elusive, amniotic jazz tinged electronica, the majority of which track in under three minutes, inspired by the gauzy recollections of a friend who, following a vicious assault, spent a week in a coma.
From there Hallett and collaborator Peter Bennie encode a series of brooding primordial set pieces which question the ambiguous methods in which we experience reality. Just as anxiety inducing as that experiment suggests, the gurgling out-of-sync nature of the record feels like being knocked unawares by some immovable object, your mind collapsing away from your body, as you try to return to the real. Beginning with the sound of a thousand videotapes being rewound and fragmented, knowledge being expunged, the remainder has the disorientated pair continually interrupting themselves, as they reconstruct their corrupted memory in extraordinarily unique patterns.
Amidst the jarring bubbles of funk infirmity that gurgle, ominous breakbeat epiphanies and near crushing hallucinogenic paranoia stands recent single Cream Submarine, its skittish four minutes of meditative reverb echoing back to Santo & Jonny’s 1959 woozy Sleep Walk. Existing much as that track does in its own disembodied plain, the tender luminous number drifts along in medically induced limbo, detaching further away from its anchor point. Examining the mnemonic effects of temporal and corporeal emancipation, Coma World have highlighted the most vital signs of life.