Oh, the '80s; some of us try desperately to forget its indelible mark on our culture, while others prefer to revel in its neon nostalgia. Yet no matter your take on über-compressed drum-machine beats, stock analog-synth patches, sci-fi clichés, and cheesy sexual innuendo, there will always (and seemingly quite often) come an artist who mines the era for their own pastiche. New Jersey-based producer Seth Haley (a.k.a. Com Truise) is among the latest batch of musicmakers to do just that. And as his debut LP for Ghostly, Galactic Melt, illustrates, the sonic territory is well past its prime.
Looking solely at the upsides of Com Truise's record, there's plenty to enjoy. Haley certainly knows his way around a synth tone, and manufactures a good number of meaty timbres that all sound vaguely familiar and yet somehow unique. The bassline for "VHS Sex" hits you in the gut while its shimmering pads attempt to amass a lump in your throat, and "Hyperlips" uses similar synths—sounding like they were sampled straight from the earliest cassette tapes—to even more emotive effect. Those two cuts, along with "Air Cal" and "Brokendate," more or less sum up the best parts of Galactic Melt. They exhibit a specific style Haley is obviously not about to abandon, but it's one that can only be incarnated so many times before losing its life force.
At its best, Galactic Melt re-appropriates the woozy analog haze of early Boards of Canada records for use in its fluorescent compositions. Outside of those tracks, much of Com Truise's album bares a striking sonic resemblance to the flat synth jingles littering the soundtracks of educational films and TV programs from the '70s and '80s—usually with a sparse and largely uninteresting beat smashing around under those nostalgic mostifs, and quite often one robotic voice or another reiterating the track's title to an obnoxious extent. The kitsch value may warrant a spin or two for curiosity's sake, but few of the album's 10 productions have the staying power of the musical touchstones Com Truise is referencing.