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Com Truise / Clark
“Repetition is a form of change,” reads one of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. Seth Haley knows the concept well, and his style of technicolour synth-wave takes the mantra as a challenge — how much emotion can one man convey through his machines? Six years ago, Galactic Melt introduced space traveller Com Truise and his journey through far-flung galaxies, before mini-epics Wave 1 and Silicon Tare expanded the story in further cosmic detail. And now Iteration concludes this sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Haley’s music has ever sounded. At the album’s heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iterationillustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. Album opener .”..Of Your Fake Dimension” launches the interstellar drama with its anthemic swells and widescreen sound design, before lovesick songs like “Dryswch” and “Propagation” outline scenes wrought with cybernetic pathos. In “Isostasy,” the synaesthetic quality of Haley’s compositions is presented in ultra-high-definition. Later, the frantic rhythms of “Syrthio” conjure images of panicked flight as Haley’s gorgeous synth melodies gild the action in quiet heartbreak. Then comes the resounding “When Will You Find The Limit…,” when Iteration‘s pain and sadness finds liberation in the vast unknown. The closing title track ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry. So goes the winding story that Iteration tells, and yet there’s more behind its telling. “I try hard not to write from my personal life, but it’s inevitably going to seep into the music,” Haley explains. “It’s basically like I’m scoring this film in my head, but that film I’m scoring is also somehow my life.” There are glimpses of the difficult time the East Coast native spent adjusting to a new life in Los Angeles, fighting homesickness and burnout while also touring the world. It was a time full of uncertainty, transition, and self-realization. After a year and a half of living in California, Haley finally recaptured his creativity by finding new excitement in his work. “I put more air, more breathing room in the music — that was the big change,” he says. And once that clicked, the album quickly materialized. Such a clear refinement of the Com Truise sound took time to develop, but Iteration is well worth the patience and perseverance it cost. Some of Haley’s smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop heights of “Memory” to “Ternary”‘s lush synth-funk. A song like “Vacuume” somehow manages to balance massive bass swells and punishing drums with stuttering angelic gasps, and “Usurper” gracefully pairs subtle poignant melodies with uplifting dance beats. “For me, it feels like change,” Haley says of his second album, and yes, this is Com Truise like never before. By embracing the music’s inherent nature and peerless qualities, Iteration finds new avenues of expression in its vivid, familiar surroundings.
Music is like sculpture. It’s like trying to capture a moment of ultimate momentum, and distill it forever”. – Clark, August 2014
‘Clark’, boldly eponymous, is the Warp experimentalist’s seventh album in 13 years? climaxing a narrative that commenced with ‘Clarence Park’, the first “Clark” attributed album ‘Body Riddle’, through the Yin and Yang of ‘Turning Dragon’ and ‘Iradelphic’, and finely honed through this year’s ‘Superscope’ EP and visually intense Phosphor live show.
This is where the sounds of the machine meet the sounds of the world. A protracted club experience distilled into a cinematic, immersive whole. Clark’s chiseled vision of techno contextualized for a postrave environment the clean, cold edges of technology eroded over time to produce raw, fascinating new textures.
These textures lay the foundations for a hugely kaleidoscopic listening experience filled with warmth. Memorable songwriting packed with melody and subtle, unpredictable shifts in mood? a finely balanced mix of electronic composition, heads down techno, human nature and the environment it was created in.
“I wanted to let the weather in with this album”, Clark explains. “It’s outward looking, it’s drenched in sounds of the outside world, sounds free from human intervention: branches crackling in the wind, storms brewing, the stillness of settling snow. It’s all in there, amongst the moreish crunch of industrial machinery”.
These real world elements offer a sense of a meditation that beckons the listener to leave human desires behind. A detailed field recording of boots in snow creeps into an echo of piano house on ‘Strength Through Fragility’, swallowing up the melancholy of the melody rather ruthlessly, teasing these things out of the listener as the track progresses. The essence of the new being carved from an unheard ancientness appears throughout ‘Clark’, a tactile interaction between alien elements creating something that would not have otherwise existed.
The machines hold their own against nature: ‘Banjo’ is a straight up MPC/synth funk jam played over three notes, the hypnotic arpeggios of ‘Unfurla’ are underpinned by a solid 4/4 kick drum, peakrave euphoria is captured in ‘There’s a Distance In You’. At its essence ‘Grit In The Pearl’ is more Berghain than Guggenheim a club banger, albeit in a parallel dimension filtered through the ‘Clark’ lens, lending new context to its spiralling rave chords.
The theme of reduction, a sculpture of sound, wins out in the end. Closing beatless piece ‘Everlane’ is a cathartic conclusion to ‘Clark’, the elements ultimately refined into timeless, ethereal melodies echoing into the ages:
“It straddles this fine line of being ultimate bliss and sadness at the same time. I find this emotional terrain compelling and keep on coming back to it. I need that epic sense of closure”.
‘Clark’ will be released by Warp Records on 3rd November 2014.