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Maxwell Hallett, nicknamed Betamax or Betamax Killer, is an adventurous percussionist from London whose splashy, spontaneous drumming anchors several notable projects spanning multiple genres. Though best-known as one-third of apocalyptic psych-jazz revolutionaries the Comet Is Coming, he also plays alongside visionary saxophonist/clarinetist Shabaka Hutchings in another outfit, the more Afrobeat-inspired Sons of Kemet, makes analog synth-rock as part of the duo Soccer96, and explores psychedelic dub rituals as part of the Champagne Dub collective. Hallett earned a music degree at Sussex University, and has been playing and collaborating with various musicians, as well as theatre and dance companies, since the early 2000s. He's worked with the likes of producer Nitin Sawhney and tabla player Praveen Row, and plays drums in the eclectic blues-rock band Hot Head Show and the poppy indie rock group Super Best Friends Club. In 2012, he formed the vibrant electro-rock duo Soccer96 with keyboard player Danalogue (Dan Leavers), releasing their self-titled debut that year. Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings frequented their gigs, and after he joined the duo on-stage at a show in 2013, the trio began improvising together in a London studio, christening themselves the Comet Is Coming after a BBC Radiophonic Workshop piece. Signing to the Leaf Label, they released their debut EP Prophecy in 2015, and their first full-length, 2016's Channel the Spirits, was surprisingly nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize. Hallett also sat in on sessions by one of Hutchings' other main groups, Sons of Kemet, and he appeared on 2018's acclaimed Impulse! release Your Queen Is a Reptile, which was also nominated for a Mercury Prize. Betamax founded a collective called Champagne Dub whose influences included free improv, English folk, post-punk, and of course dub reggae. Their debut album, Drops, appeared on Faith and Industry in 2018. Earlier in the year, Betamax recorded a session with Nightports, an experimental duo who create music strictly from sounds produced by their featured collaborator. Nightports w/ Betamax was released by the Leaf Label in June of 2020.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo
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