Seth Haley has spent this decade traveling two parallel paths under his chillwave stage name Com Truise. The first line is sonic, coated with flat beats and plush retro keyboards lifted from great new wave, sophisti-pop, and synth-funk libraries. The second is narrative, as his discography compiles traditional standalone releases with episodes in a loose, broad tale of a cyborg astronaut traveling to a distant quasi-Earth. You’ve heard of tone poems? Well, these are tuneful, groovy chapters, and Iteration—the first proper Com Truise album in five years—is purportedly the fourth and final one in the story.
Haley’s used the cosmic journey previously suggested in the music of Galactic Melt, Wave 1 and Silicon Tare as an allegory for aspects of his own life: love found and lost, homesickness encountered moving from New York to L.A., touring behind his beloved music and burning out from the same. Despite these contemplative inspirations, Com Truise’s work has rarely felt sullen or sad. Indeed, Haley describes this part of his tale told through sound as the denouement, a futuristic happy ending where Com Truise and a new female companion find safe passage off a doomed planet.
So it figures that the album is full of songs like “Dryswych,” “When Will You Find the Limit…,” and “Vacuume” suggesting bright movie-montage backgrounds or twitchy instrumentals of love songs. “…Of Your Fake Dimension” and “Syrthio” further pinpoint the album’s enjoyable, eclectic legacy of performance and production, bits and pieces heard in Howard Jones, early New Order, Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy,” Real Life’s “Send Me an Angel.” Iteration exists in the same throwback universe as Stranger Things, but it forms a John Hughes pop-song yin to S U R V I V E’s horrorshow yang.
If there is one complaint here it’s that Haley seems so committed to sounding vintage that one wonders if he can sound modern again. Yet with Iteration closing this particular audio “book,” Com Truise faces nothing but new blank pages on which to seek out new life and new civilizations. I’m ready to boldly go.
Adam Blyweiss is associate editor of Treble. A graphic designer and design teacher by trade, Adam has written about music since his 1990s college days and been published at MXDWN and e|i magazine. Based in Philadelphia, Adam has also DJ’d for terrestrial and streaming radio from WXPN and WKDU.