Another deceptively deep exploration from Comet Control. While the languid vocals and bright psychedelia recognisable from the song-writing pedigree in Quest For Fire are still present, Inside The Sun offers a bit more edge somehow than their previous album Centre Of The Maze. Listening back to that 2016 gem, the sound was generally less front foot (OK, apart from Criminal Mystic), acoustic guitars, tambourines and synths more forward and the vibe more ‘classic’ (until of course the gear change into the final suite of Sick In Space and Artificial Light).
Inside The Sun however crashes through the door with a charging drum pattern that ignites opener Keep On Spinnin’. In other hands this song could be a three-minute garage rager, but Comet Control make something different of this energy, drawing on the urgency and insistence through repetition to make this seven minutes of good times. They deploy a couple of deft tricks, phasing and stereo-panning and the odd false-stop which plays against the lyric ‘keep on spinnin’ til you die’. And this is why I say deceptively deep – starting the record with a high-energy song, which on the face of it, isn’t that complicated, but a song that hinges on some very smart writing, and also introduces the life-and-death themes that run through the whole album.
Reconciling these extremes is Comet Control’s quiet work, momentum is always pushing on even as the feel is relaxed and vocals sleepy. The vibe is always trip-friendly, no sharp edges to injure your mind on here, but not overly sugary or superficial, lyrics keeping the stakes high, and phasers set to ‘astound’. I must confess that even after several listens Good Day To Say Goodbye does continue to break the spell a little for me, as I can’t but hear a certain Elephant Tree song.
Getting over my own distractions however, this song works to pull back some of the frenzied momentum of the album’s opening, settling into a groove that pushes that energy into tonal weight and finally boils over in a blazing guitar solo. This earthbound blues number sets us up for escaping Earth orbit in the album’s title-track, inviting us to join in an inclusive cosmic evolution – ‘inside the sun there’s space for everyone’. And indeed, the space rock components that had been largely absent thus far are deployed to great effect at this central hinge.
establishes Comet Control as a considerable presence in modern psychedelic rock…
Tracking against Centre Of The Maze, The Afterlife should be the album’s Golden Rule, but where that song was an ambiguously blissful and sinister bit of blur, The Afterlife offers a paradise vision of pastoral simplicity. Only momentary flashes of psychedelic unease surface – ‘Water’s warm but my face is cold, do you feel alright?’. This feels like a generous piece of guiding, not towards the ‘centre of the maze’, but simply to that place we want to be.
This could be a tempting place to end the story, but Comet Control move us on, revealing the transitory nature of those states of bliss. On into Heavy Moments which balances a bright and open progression against the purposely awkward ‘fluff’ in the chords of the refrain, and hints at some darker realities, as life ‘takes its toll in every way’. This is maybe even the voice of that one who has departed for the afterlife – ‘Were you the last to ever see me? Was I the first to act surprised?’. Finally, The Deserter offers call and response vocals that walk us into celebratory violin runs, reflecting lyrically back to earlier points of the album, and easing us back into our lives.
I was a big Quest For Fire fan and initially a bit unconvinced by Comet Control, working with that legacy behind them, but a stellar performance supporting Earthless in 2018 won me round and had me revisiting their first two records. It was apparently after that tour that writing began on Inside The Sun, and the album provides further evidence of their skill in handling energy, vibe and a clear-eyed lyrical vision, and further establishes Comet Control as a considerable presence in modern psychedelic rock.
Scribed by: Harry Holmes