Com Truise: Making a name in sound

by Keenan Ketzner

Trying to make a name that stands out these days can be tricky, and sometimes you have to choose one that compromises on sincerity with brand-ability. With a name like Com Truise, one would expect the music of such an artist might try to rely too heavily on gimmicks to get their music across to the audience. Thankfully however, the New York music producer and DJ Seth Harley sets himself apart by creatively using the sound of 80s action movie soundtracks merged with 2000s production techniques to reinvent both sounds into a more dancey, but equally cinematic concoction.

Born from the burgeoning DAW/home-studio era of music making, Seth had taken his interests with DJing to its logical conclusion of making his own tracks, and after feeling a bit fed up with the competition and repetition of the local Drum ‘n’ Bass scene, he started working on something different, heading in a new direction with the inspiration of an often life-changing group for producers.

“Basically, I started listening to Boards of Canada, and started making a lot of downtempo ambient music. Then moving into the modern electro sound like Justice, but just always kept pursuing new sounds.” (Which is a fact you can hear mirrored throughout Com Truises ever-changing discography.)

Armed with the software Reason and a growing collection of classic synths, Seth started his Com Truise alias to almost immediate blogosphere acclaim.

Caught up in the quick-to-be-labeled fad and still dubious title of “Chillwave,” Cyanide Sisters EP because a forbearer of the sound. Thick, hazy synths that sizzle and shine with a smooth synthetic edge. Part glitzy electronic, but also relaxed and sedate. With Com Truise’s sound firmly established, Seth followed it up with Galactic Melt, In Decay, and most recently, Persuasion System.

“With the early Com Truise stuff, sticking to the story and only working towards the story got very tiring. I also guess I didn’t take as many risks as I would have now… With [Persuasion System] I could just focus on making a record… Sometimes I’d start with drums, and other times I’d start with the synth patches… For melodies I would just sit at the piano downstairs and it was all out of tune, so it fed into the darker sound.”

Although the direct idea of a narrative had been ditched, each song on the album stands up by having its own singular sound universe vibrantly depicted. Warm, hypnic synth passages have been replaced with cold pads, stark drum beats, and non-cyclical song structures. The whole album feels more mature overall, which seems to mirror Seth’s more pensive and self-reflective relation to art over the past decade.

Equally as impressive as his album output is of course his EP releases, which almost take more sound palette risks than the albums do, focusing on more glitchy and trance like music. Not to mention dozens of remixes spanning artists such as: Neon Indian, Twin Shadow, Sky Ferreira, Maroon 5, Tycho, Deftones, and even Deadmau5.

Despite having several unique and well-established electronic albums, the Com Truise era might be meeting a diverging path with Seth growing weary of the limitations of just making an album after album, especially now that a clear direction is missing.

“I’d like to write less records, and do much less touring… I’d like to work on film or game music, but getting into those fields is difficult…”

Despite this, Com Truise will continue to put out more music and tour, and will hopefully be getting the opportunity to work more closely to the realm of cinema that his music so clearly references and revels in.

Catch Com Truise at the Wild Buffalo on Oct. 24. Follow him on social media.