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Comess, Aaron: Sculptures

My last encounter with drummer Aaron Comess came over two decades ago, with one of the most boring, self indulgent evenings of ‘entertainment’ I’ve witnessed being doled out by the drummer and his band, Spin Doctors. Riding high on the mega-success of their multi-million selling debut album and singles, the lads up on stage arrived in Glasgow with the mistaken thought that if they were having a great time then everybody else must be too. Unfortunately, even all these years down the line, little appears to have changed, Comess offering up a fairly impenetrable solo album, Sculptures, alongside Leon Gruenbaum who plays samichillian tip tip tip cheepee synthesizer (so the press release tells me).

Opening with the title track, a click clack thwack of percussion is revealed as it barely glances at its howling, prowling synth mate in sympathy. Have these two chaps been sent the same pieces of music to reveal? “Berlin” follows and compounds expectations by being a mellow and melancholy acoustic ballad which, slowly builds into quite an enigmatic shimmer of imagery. Maybe I was wrong after all?

A bark of synth and chug of keys is then punctuated by percussive slaps and we’re off again in the land of ‘we can so we will’, before “Whaky” decides to be Ozric Tentacles without the, well, you know, good bits - drum rolls and snare abuse underpinned by squeeeeing synth and grinding electro-gears. And then, wallop, here’s the groove and the proof that when they care to, this duo can indeed lock in tight and enthral. It’s called “The Beast”, yet even here the payoff takes patience. “The Pink Room” follows and with a sliding rock twist of gliding guitar melody and beautifully repeated motifs, it feels like something of a pat on the head for staying the course with the less engaging fare. I’m guessing however, that Comess prefers the more jagged indulgences elsewhere.

Veering closet to jazz, “Soundcheck-Oceans” adds a welcome structure to the more challenging side of Sculptures, before the final reward for being a good-boy appears in the shape of the closing “Falling Leaves” and its acoustic meanderings, before the slightly less engaging “Berlin Part Two” brings down the curtain.

In the end Sculptures feels like something of a compromise and makes for an album of strange bedfellows and uneasy neighbours; and one which pleases and bemuses on alternate turns. Of course, maybe it’s just me, but just as I did all those years ago, I can’t quite help but walk away from Aaron Comess safe in the knowledge that he has had a great time and that I nearly did.

Track Listing
1. Sculptures
2. Berlin
3. Dogs
4. Whaky
5. The Beast
6. The Pink Room
7. Soundcheck-Oceans
8. Falling Leaves
9. Berlin Part Two

Added: April 22nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Aaron Comess on facebook
Hits: 949
Language: english

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Comess, Aaron: Sculptures
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-04-23 04:40:14
My Score:

Here is an album that has unintentionally slipped through my fingers the last couple years but as they say better late than never. Aaron Comess, founder of the pop band Spin Doctors has released three albums as the Aaron Comess Trio plus one as a five piece and has performed with a variety of musicians. He released his debut way back in 2006 and this review covers his last album titled Sculptures, released in 2018.

Sculptures is a difficult album to categorize as it does not quite fit into any one genre. Jazz, hip hop, electronic, funk, and a couple other genres I have forgotten. The best part is it absolutely works. Comess certainly has groove and at times he shows his considerable drumming skills, more so in changing tempos and meters and not so much in the way of flashy acrobatics. He prefers to get everyone involved, so this is truly a band effort. One such musician is Leon Gruenbaum who plays samchillian on all tracks. The synthesizer instrument is his own invention and instead of fixed pitches, change in pitches are heard when notes are played. You will have to listen for yourself, but the sounds generated are pretty cool.

The album begins with the hip-hop tinged title track where Comess provides the groove and interesting beat change ups, along with an abundance of electronic effects, presumably from the samchillian. A pretty acoustic guitar highlights the melodic and tasteful “Berlin” which is followed by “Dogs” where the synthesizer snarls and the sound is quite experimental. Speaking of experimental, “Wacky” (the name says it all), features a tricky drum rhythm and wildly experimental sounds and effects. With “The Beast”, pulsating keys and a wild drum groove along with tasty Rhodes piano borders on electronic avant-garde while “The Pink Room” begins with floating keyboards and ear catching guitar with a reverberating tone. The song has an almost trance-like effect and may be my favourite on the disc.

Aaron Comess has made an interesting and unique album with Sculptures. It is both catchy and experimental, never really sticking within a single genre and showcasing some rather creative ideas. Recommended for those seeking something a little ‘different’.

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