October 3, 2012

An Introduction to Com Truise

com truise

Were you aware that Tom Cruise is Dyslexic? It’s true. Thank God for those good looks and whatever else it is people found charming about him.

1. We have Top Gun. That’s good stuff right there. Jokes about homoerotic sports carousing, cartoon hero Archer’s “Danger Zone” catch phrase, and leather bomber jacket sales in the mid 80s all owe him a thank you.

2. His whole career paved the way for the best couch hopping motion gif ever, thanks to that Oprah appearance.

3. We now have the electronic music artist working under the name Com Truise.

So who is Com Truise?

Com Truise is, in fact, a New Jersey based producer named Seth Haley. Haley calls his music style “mid-fi-synth-wave-slow-motion-funk.” Some others have called it “VHS wave.” Still others lump it in with “synth wave. I’m personally drawn to go with VHS wave, as the nostalgic 80s tones Haley conjures from his synthesizers are reminiscent of 80s B movie scores and television soundtracks. I’ll put it this way: pull out any old 80s horror movie that ends up with a battle of good versus evil in a mall, turn down the volume and turn up the Com Truise and you will likely feel that you have made things ten percent more epic. His de-tuned synths and basses, heavy choruses, and drifting delays almost make the sounds of a VHS tape reaching the end of its life. That said, while he does use a lot of vintage synths and sounds of the 70s and 80s, his work is defined just as much with modern processing techniques. Everything from his beat programming to the way he applies saturation and transient shaping to his retro beat samples and sounds creates something simultaneously old and new.

With a history of working advertising and a love of sci-fi, it is with almost no pretense or irony that Haley delivers his delicious swirling synth stew. By all accounts, his nostalgia comes from the heart and is not built to fit a fashionable scene or anything like that. His music is driven by vision of the future as it was seen in the past (a la Blade Runner) and memories of his own childhood. As heady as the prospect of largely instrumental synth driven music might be in premise, something about the Com Truise sound is definitely from the heart. He is also responsible for his own graphic identity, which seems to be a more frequent pairing among the solo electronic artists coming out. Process influenced creatives are writing about what they do and doing what they write about. Go figure.

Strung end to end, the songs Haley has come up with have a solid homogeneity that almost could see them all on one record, or even be confused with him having one sound. However, in interviews Haley has stated quite clearly that he puts out material under other aliases when he wants to sound different. In listening this logic is easy to appreciate. I can’t think of a better record for spacing out and designing to than… well… any Com Truise these days. His music inspires me to tweak on synths, get designs finished, and do some serious marathon video gaming. The constant sound hardly comes across as bland, and ends up something more like soaring across the well designed landscape of a movie, or across records it begins to become an epic trilogy.

Records So Far

So far, the only Com Truise full length is 2011′s “Galactic Melt.” However, the “Cyanide Sisters” EP currently has enough bonus items tacked on to it to seem like a full length. Also, his latest release, “In Decay,” has unreleased items and rarities previously widely unavailable. My favorite thing about “In Decay” is that, unlike some artists’ actual full length releases, this “collection” plays out like a full length record he’s always planned on issuing as one piece. There’s a lot to be said for self editing and clever album sequencing. All of these are available on Spotify, or in iTunes, as well as the three song Fairlight single. Com Truise has also appeared with an “Encom” remix on the Tron 2 soundtrack, and with a number of other remixes that you will likely stumble into. With the recent compilation released in June, it is to be hoped that the next full length is just around the corner for Haley. Keep an eye out for it either by following the artist himself or through his label Ghostly International.

Why Should You Care?

At the end of the day, Haley’s music is a picture of what can really be done with sound design and a clear goal in mind. As much wizardry is associated with the art of creating sounds in the synthesizer world, there are few formats that are excessively complex. Even with FM synthesis, the methods in the various forms can be easily digested, and processing is still such a huge part of creating one’s sound. Through the music of Com Truise, and so many of his contemporaries, it becomes very obvious how processing, the art of mixing for emphasis, and a little vision can set an artist apart from the crowd. In an age where so many people flock towards the same plug in sets, the same low cost analog units, and the same DAW, I quite like having folks like Com Truise to listen to.

It doesn’t hurt that it’s also “great music to chill out to.”

Check him out on iTunes.