Back when Sound of Contact released their debut album, I heard and loved it, but only when I went to review it did I realize that the band included Phil Collins’ son. Sometimes, albums can surprise you in that way when you suddenly see familiar names. I’ve been in contact with Komie about this album for some time, even forgetting to download the promo before the expiration date (to my shame), and I have come to love this album, too. Just like SoC, though, when I went to write the review, I found that Komie is actually Ron Komie, an Emmy-winning artist with deep ties to Hollywood. His new solo album “Afterglow” is releasing on June 8th, and it’s a truly beautiful album.
Ron Komie has some serious credits, such as Ozzy Osbourne’s World Detour, The Voice, NASCAR, Dateline, Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Amazing Race. He’s done music for movies and advertisements, and has been involved in progressive rock in the distant past (I’m young and dumb). On this particular album, Komie is responsible for everything you hear, and the results are fantastic.
Komie has a quite distinctive stumbling, yet nimble sound to his playing. His playing doesn’t particularly remind me of any of the “greats”, like Gilmour, Hackett, etc. I might hear a bit of Oldfield in there, but that would be a good thing in my book. This album isn’t metal at all, but Komie consistently pulls off what I would call “shredding”, only in the most melodic way you’ve ever heard. Truly, his guitars are sincere and purposeful, and his inspiration is crystal clear (more on that in a moment).
The album has wonderfully atmospheric keys and orchestrations that really boost the overall sound, and they also remind us that Komie is trying to make a beautiful album, not just a bunch of guitar wankery. Indeed, the entire focus of the album seems to be melody and beauty, not a showcase for guitar skills, although that comes into play quite often. Because of this, there is such a flow of emotions and wonder through this album. The backing orchestrations really take the ponderous guitar work and lift it to the skies to the point where you will fly with them. The album feels more life-giving and positive than most anything I’ve heard lately.
There’s a different tone to this album that I don’t often hear in progressive rock. In a genre that prides itself on the ultra-serious, this album is lighthearted, soothing, and uplifting. Don’t get me wrong: I like my music with hardcore philosophical slants, social commentary, and spiritual depth. However, sometimes, you just need music that washes over your soul with warmth and light. This album will do exactly that through grand melodies, little in the way of percussion on most tracks (though the drums are awesome when they are present), and feelings of transcendence.
There is a reason for that. Komie cites The Great American Eclipse in 2017 as inspiration for this album. The collective silence from the crowd during the holy and otherworldly sights that he experienced seems to have left a permanent mark on him. The album follows the story of a girl who is taken to other worlds to learn the truth about what lies within her, and so she learns the power of healing, courage, and overcoming darkness. You can feel the shift in her character and the sincerity of hope all over every single track, from the darkness of “Driftwood” to the energy of “Power Surge” to the delicate feelings of “Pieces of Me”.
The whole album exudes peace and completeness. My favorites seem to have the purest melodies and the clearest sense of purpose. “Cirrus Flow” is a fantastic single and opener for the album. There’s just something about the whimsy and excitement in this song that is so infectious. Another favorite is “Rush”. It is one of those songs that sweeps you off your feet and takes you away to distant lands. The energy and simple melodies are inherently amazing. I’m also a big fan of the title track, a grand journey of emotion and ethereal tones; and the final track on the album, “Aeon Shift”, with its hopeful and forward-thinking ideas.
Overall, “Afterglow” seems like an artistic triumph for Ron Komie. No, it’s not going to be awarded like some of his TV work (and that’s a shame), but the sheer inspiration and colorful feelings of hope that define this album are undeniably striking and mesmerizing. This album is a triumph from that perspective, and I think the prog community as a whole needs to embrace it.