Seth Haley, who emits slow-motion computer pop under his alias Com Truise, seems to beam his music from a neo-futurist spacecraft tucked away in the cosmos. Rocketeering from a board of analog synths, his DNA adheres more to a Technicolor grid than to any double helix.
His palette is smeared with the echoes of New Order and Cocteau Twins, smogs of childhood memories and graphics of old Commodore Pet 4032s. After all, he was one of the early purveyors of the now-ubiquitous, revivalist-by-nature synthwave that took hold of internet music subculture in the last decade.
His latest album, Persuasion System, the reason for his cross country tour and stop at the WOW on Oct. 26, evokes emotion more than anything from his previous 10 years of activity. Unlike his past output that was comprised of light-speed blasts through lunar canyons alongside a fictional protagonist, Persuasion System is a subliminal but personal indulgence. It hits the ears like rays of neon light.
Over the last two years, Haley’s life has been defined by change. He ditched New Jersey and moved to L.A. with a significant other with whom he now shares a stepchild. He even switched from Reason to Ableton software to craft his music. The songs on the latest album vary in origin, some birthed from forced lulls at the keyboard and others from random bursts of inspiration during TV binges.
“I usually don’t like writing about my personal life,” he says over the phone while on his way to his next show in Detroit. “But the change was so great that it just kind of worked its way in there.”
The space he and a handful of others carved out for their music at the turn of the decade, categorized by the catch-all term “synthwave,” has since become cavernous, bloated by musicians who happen to employ synths in their compositions, pushing people like Haley toward the fringes. He now circumvents the term by describing his music simply as “downtempo electronic” — he does feel more like Slowdive than Tears for Fears.
While cultural cornerstones like Netflix’s Stranger Things nudge folks to romanticize ’80s synthpop and slow dance to Alphaville’s “Forever Young”— facets that undoubtedly inspired synthwave at inception — Haley bends his afflatus for a different effect.
“It’s a way to kind of access a sort of depression and sadness,” he says. “It’s inspiring to dip into those moments.” It’s not the sound of the ’80s that he’s fascinated with, it’s the “sound of the sound.”
Despite the absence of lyrics in his tracks, his digital 1s and 0s maintain a humanity often obfuscated in distilled synth music, an attribute he chalks up to his lack of formal musical training.
“I think it’s the accident of being native about things that gives the music a human element,” he says. “I like when things are kind of broken, kind of dusty. I think that’s how the human stays in there in some form.”
These days Haley likes to travel light, only bringing along his laptop, a KORG Arp Odyssey, an Elektron Digitakt drum machine and an APC MPD32. Even after 10 years of doing shows, he still sees himself as much more of a producer than a performer. He keeps his shows exciting with his entrancing visuals and varying set list, which features sprinkles of new material.
He’s made a few past appearances at the WOW Hall, and the atmosphere he creates resonates with college stoners and townie lifers alike. Spaceship abduction has no bias.
Com Truise plays the WOW Hall with Altopalo and Beshken 8:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 26; $20, all-ages.