Aaron Comess is known for his drum skills, so it’s no surprise that his new album overflows with cool beats. But Comess, also a composer and producer, had something more ambitious in mind when he wrote the 12 instrumental tracks on his third solo record. Without lyrics, he sought to tell a story in sound that would allow listeners to assemble the scenes in their minds. On this count, he succeeds gloriously. With the assistance of bassist Richard Hammond and guitarist Teddy Kumpel, Comess weaves a dream-like succession of images from the powerful simplicity of “Hard Ball,” which changes moods on a dime, to the peaceful “Sunrise” with spare percussion under gorgeous bass/guitar interplay. Comess writes lovely melodies – on “Clear” and “Casa Colonial” for example –but the mood underneath can be complicated and uneasy, like in “Finally.” The standout track is “Gorilla,” the pounding drums and insistent, nervy bass raging underneath Kumpel’s guitar, which sometimes evokes animal cries. Tying it all together are the opening and closing pieces –“Surprise – Parts I and 2” – the first filled with possibility and the second with a more ominous feel. It’s a fascinating sonic feast.
– Kay Cordtz