The Spotlight | 9:30 Club Presents Com Truise & Clark at U Street Music Hall (May 19, 7pm)
Com Truise is one of the many personas of producer and designer Seth Haley, born and raised in upstate New York and operating out of a 12’-overrun apartment in Princeton, New Jersey. An admitted synth obsessive, Com Truise is the maker of an experimental and bottom heavy style he calls “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk”. Haley’s been making music on the side for roughly a decade—going through pseudonyms like toothbrushes (Sarin Sunday, SYSTM, Airliner)—first as a DJ, and currently, as an excavator of softer, window-fogging synth-wave.
While subliminally informed by both parental record collections and hints of faded electronics product design, Haley’s Com Truise project isn’t just nostalgia capitalization. There are fragments (read: DNA strands) of Joy Division, New Order, and the Cocteau Twins, but it’s like you’re hearing them through the motherboard of a waterlogged Xbox—demented and modern. He’s got a way of making familiar things sound beautifully hand-smeared.
The first Com Truise release was the Cyanide Sisters EP—distributed for free on the AMdiscs label—where mellow stone-outs like “Sundriped” and “Slow Peels” sat next to harder IDM bangers (“BASF Ace” and “IWYWAW”) and bumpy alt-funk trips (“Norkuy” and “Komputer”). After that came a single “Pyragony/Trypyra,” and a series of eclectic podcast mixes titled “Komputer Cast.” Now comfortably situated amidst the Ghostly roster, he’s prepping his next warped pillage, and hopefully not changing that name again.
Mixing computer-generated crunches, pops, and clicks with organic synthesizer tones and heavily processed sounds, U.K. native Chris Clark creates tense electronica that struggles between a sense of natural wonder and exuberance and dark, foreboding under currents. Clark, who lived in Bristol and Brighton before settling in Birmingham, debuted on Warp with the wintry Clarence Park, released in 2001. Recorded while he was still at university, it was a promising first record, full of cold, terse synths and big beats. The Ceramics Is the Bomb EP followed in 2003, but it was on Empty the Bones of You where Clark proved to be one of the most original laptop musicians working. With fully tweaked sounds and disorienting textures overlapping with lulling synths, Clark constructed a buzzing and organic world of sound. The albums Body Riddle and Turning Dragon, released in 2006 and 2008, as well as the 2009 set Totems Flare, traced the ever-growing maturity present in Clark’s music.
For 2012’s Iradelphic, he recorded in a number of locations and collaborated with like-minded labelmate Bibio. The time spent making the album was so fruitful, he released a downloadable online series called The Iradelphic Sessions as well as an EP, Fantasm Planes, that arrived later that year. Shortly after the EP’s release, a dance performance called Tilted Fawn, featuring music by Clark, debuted at the Sydney Opera House. The remixes collection Feast/Beast, which featured collaborations with Massive Attack, Bibio, Depeche Mode, and HEALTH, arrived in 2013. Clark returned with new material in 2014, first with the single “Superscope,” and then with a self-titled album. These releases, along with 2015’s Flame Rave EP, took a harder-edged, more danceable approach than the material that preceded them. Also in 2015, Clark composed the score to The Last Panthers, a six-part crime thriller mini-series produced by Warp Films that utilized David Bowie’s “Blackstar” as its opening theme song. Warp released Clark’s BAFTA-nominated score in March of 2016. For the following year’s Death Peak, Clark incorporated vocals into vibrant-yet-ominous tracks with a maximalist approach. The album received positive reviews and was commended for the producer’s decision to work outside his comfort zone, opting for invigorating melodies while retaining his dissonant, hard-hitting sound.