Guitarist Ron Komie is Komie and he emailed me about doing a review for this album. Right away I recognized his name. As someone who reads (and somehow remembers) all liner notes over the years, I wrote him back and asked if he was on Asia’s “Then and Now” album. He laughed and said that was a million years ago. True, but that memory made me want to check out his music.
You see, on that Asia album there were 3 brand new songs with 2 different guitarists. Steve Howe and Mandy Meyer were both long gone so it was Steve Lukather of Toto, Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy and a guy named Ron Komie. So he had to be good to hold his own with all of these guys. Now all these years later, I am left wondering “was Komie too good to be in Asia?” Because his album “Afterglow” is filled with incredibly tasteful playing and great songs.
The first thing that I noticed when the lead track “Cirrus Flow” kicks off is how bright it sounds. There’s an inherent beauty to the way Komie plays. It’s that way through out “Afterglow.” It’s the choice of notes rather than the number. This is not to say that he can’t peel off a serious run. He can and does but even those are well placed. Refer to the licks on “Cirrus Flow.” There’s also plenty of atmosphere on tracks like “Driftwood.” It’s how the notes are played in addition to which ones.
There’s a diversity to the album as well. From tranquil moments to more upbeat driving moments (“Rush” is one of those), “Afterglow” has it. There’s so many great moments that each time I listen, I hear more of them. Downside? Once again, I am never keen on electronic percussion/programming like on “Breathe You In” but it’s a minor complaint since the playing is once again sublime.
Stylewise, Komie reminds me of people like Steve Hackett, Steve Rothery, Phil Keaggy and Jeff Beck. The melody is paramount to Komie. Many guitarists could stand to listen to “Afterglow” as a lesson plan. This is how it’s DONE. “Afterglow” is a clinic without being showy. I should mention the backing band is solid as well. They keep everything very tight like on tracks like “Power Surge” which needs just a bit of punch without being too obvious.
By the time I get to the gorgeous “Skyburst” and the funky closer “Aeon Shift,” I am always surprised that it’s done. As a listener, it’s really east to get lost in “Afterglow.” I am also thinking back to “Then and Now” by Asia and what could have been. Komie would have been a great fit. Instead he followed his own path, a path that I need to now go back and track. Komie’s latest album “Afterglow” is a feast for your ears: a positive light of instrumental greatness.
3. Breathe You In
5. Eyes of Innocence
6. Power Surge
8. Inhumanly Possible
10. Pieces of Me
11. Aurora Dawning
13. Aeon Shift