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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Aaron Comess - Beautiful Mistake

Aaron Comess - Beautiful Mistake
2011, Aaron Comess

Aaron Comess is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Joan Osborne, David Foster, Phil Ramone, Isaac Hayes, Chris Whitley, Marc Cohn and Natasha Bedingfield (among others).  You might remember Comess as a founding member of The Spin Doctors (drums).  However you may have crossed musical paths with Aaron Comess, there can be no doubt that his talents have aided and abetted some pretty big names in the music business.  On June 14, 2011, Comess releases his second solo instrumental album, Beautiful Mistake

Comess surrounds himself with first class musicians on Big Mistake, allowing the ensemble to stand out as a whole, and in individually, while he quietly drives the action with variegated rhythms.  Opening with "Truth", Comess starts listeners off in mellow, thoughtful tones.  Guitar is the lead voice here, imparting a sort of stodgy melodicism that is more fluid and lyric than it first appears.  "Beautiful Mistake" is a deceptive and archaic waltz that occasional breaks into a swing beat.  Bass and percussion create a rhythmic bed that is entrancing, while Comess' guitarist has his way with your ears in a guitar sound that's part Prince and part Eric Johnson.  Comess and ensemble build all of this into a rollicking jam that sweeps you up in its pure joy.  "Past Present & Future" builds on a polyrhythmic feel with quirky guitar sounds, sounding like a compositional study in rhythmic aberrations.  It's entertaining and offbeat, and could be taken as run through with a wicked sense of humor. 

Comess drops into mellow rumination for "Kumpelicious", delving into some vaguely Hendrix-style riffs in a mellow side-trip of sound.  "Castkills Last Waltz" is jaunty and fun, with something a swing sensibility built loosely into the arrangement.  What will really catch your ear here is the phrasing on the guitar, which transcends technical competence to that thing they call "touch" or "feel".  As a counter, Comess pulls a complete left turn into the bowels of garage rock for "Dirt", an angular and distorted bit of fun that serves as a perfect counter to the pure essence it follows.

"Limbo" sounds like a blend of Steve Howe and Greg Kihn; funky and full of a bubbling energy.  The exceptional guitar work here is punctuated by rhythms and sounds that begin by distracting and slowly enmesh themselves into the creation that is the song.  Comess tries his hand at gothic-style film scoring on "Unleash The Beast", a messy-but-fun composition that gets points for style and pure chutzpah.  "Lullabye" serves as a spoiler, a sweet, flowing melody as a moment of piece in the maelstrom of creation imparted on Beautiful Mistake.  The moment of peace is over quickly, however, as Comess and band launches into the muscular-yet-atmospheric "High Five".  What starts out as a straight forward composition builds in intensity and style, adding funk and volume until it's ready to blow out the top. 

"Stinky" is an edgy new-age pop instrumental.  Mild-mannered, but rough enough around the edges to not quite fit into the traditional new age category.  Comess answers back with "Bubble Blues", which is bathed in distortion and reverb.  It doesn't really add a lot to the album, but is an interesting diversion that leads into the spritely sweet closing track, "I Love You".  Everything flows at the end, as Comess has save his purest melodic moment for last.

Beautiful Mistake is a pleasant surprise.  So many pop/rock instrumental albums out there rely on cyclical arrangements and blind creation, often resulting in repetitive or derivative creations that seem anathema to the creative process.  Comess has structured Beautiful Mistake with an ear for musical diversity and progression, forcing himself continually over new ground rather than recapturing the same harmonic and melodic fields again and again.  Not every moment here will work for every listener, but Comess keeps things original and new throughout the album.  Consequently, those will listen complacently will miss a lot.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Aaron Comess at or  Beautiful Mistake drops on CD on June 14, 2011.  The album is already available digitally from or iTunes.

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