Published May 14, 2019Iteration, Seth Haley's 2017 release as Com Truise, seemed to serve not only as a conclusion to the L.A.-based producer's long-gestating conceptual space drama, but as the logical end-point to a certain way of doing things musically as well. While excellent, the album had begun to show the limits of Haley's distinctive '80s retro-futurist sound.
Perhaps cognizant of this, Haley switched to a new DAW (digital audio workstation) for 2019's Persuasion System (described in its press release as a "mini-LP," at nine tracks), and it's perhaps in the spirit of these allusions to recalibration that the album is best appreciated. It certainly sounds diminutive in scope after the triumph of Iteration, and, despite the new gear, there's not much that sounds especially new or exciting here, just the usual Com Truise stuff in a slightly reduced register.
For the more forgiving, there are certainly some vintage Truise moments to be savoured here. "Ultrafiche of You" is as lonesome and beautifully haunting as anything he's done — when the bass line takes centre stage for a space-funk lead halfway through, it's hard not to nod in appreciation. Late-album slow-burner "Privilege Escalation" is excellent as well, its confident, mid-tempo strut providing a solid vehicle for some of Haley's trademark synth melodies, with a flourish toward the end that will have the credits of your favourite John Carpenter movie rolling in the back of your brain.
Elsewhere, however, things just don't rise up to the standards set by Haley's previous work. Tracks like "Persuasion System" and "Kontex" are Com Truise by the numbers: skittering mid-tempo beats, chilly '80s synth work with just a hint of dissonance, the usual glitchy details; we are in familiar galaxies here.
That's fine, but to boldly explore would have been fruitful as well — especially when a conscious decision was made to alter his methodology. Indeed, it sometimes sounds like Haley's just re-learning his signature sound over again with a new setup here, which is perhaps not without interest, but those expecting a vibrant new chapter in the Com Truise story will have to make do with this transitional and slightly disappointing effort in the meantime. (Ghostly International)