It’s been a while since we’ve had a proper album from electronic chillwave artist Com Truise. Even though he’s been releasing material pretty consistently since his debut in 2011, most of it has been in the form of EPs or compilations of other material. But 6 years after the release of Galactic Melt, Com Truise is back with his second full-length album, Iteration. Interestingly, the album is meant to cap off the running narrative through all of the producer’s releases about a synthetic astronaut’s journey through the galaxy. This new album marks the last days spent by the astronaut Com Truise on the planet Wave 1 (in reference to one of the intervening EPs), and the album certainly gets off to a definite “beginning of the end” approach with the opening track “…Of Your Fake Dimension.” Starting with a low rumbling bass synth, the track ushers the listener in with glittery echoing synths and a particularly groovy drum beat, once again bringing the audience into the astronaut’s world.
The album proceeds to run through a range of musical textures and feelings to emulate the final days of this space voyage, often bordering on melancholic and uncertain feelings. “Ephemeron”, the second song on Iteration, conveys a sense of somberness and uncertainty throughout, especially when the song’s audio begins to deliberately fade, distort, and deteriorate in the closing moments. Throughout the main track as well, the synths echo and fade in and out, creating a permanent sense of isolation and loneliness. The album’s first single “Memory” plays off similar feelings of anxiety, especially with the introductory synth melody’s deliberate melodic dissonance forcing a sense of uneasiness on the listener. These segments combined with the oddly bouncy melody of the body of the track create a back-and-forth dichotomy of hope and dread, especially when the song is capped off with a computerized voice uttering “I am finally free of your memory.”
Echoing faded synths are a predominant part of the album’s compositions, as overall this is the most chilled-out of Com Truise’s releases to date. The synth lines are multilayered and intricate but also very streamlined in a way that sets it apart from his prior works. One of the other singles, “Isostasy”, uses this to great effect, as the track is supported by a simply melody that fades in and out of the song like stars passing by, and there’s also a bleeping staccato synth line that offers a nice contrast to the backing melody. That same contrast could be said of “Ternery” where the introductory part of the song is incredibly simple, and as it progress, the synth runs get more complicated and dynamic, and even the drums have more of a dense pattern to them. The songs which best exemplify the album’s core idea at its best are the tracks “Propagation” and “Syrthio”. The former has a lot of considerably fast synth runs, especially the mid-range synths with their off-kilter rhythms and staccato vibes. The latter track is arguably the most intense on the album, opening with harsh industrialized reverberation that segues into the most intricate drum beat present on the record, which even includes some noticeably hard-hitting double kicks and dense hi-hat patterns. “Syrthio” also possesses the most impressive synthesized melodies on the entire record, going into a very densely packed solo section during the back half. There’s some ambitious work in songs like this, and those moments are the strongest on record.
While there’s plenty to like about the album’s conveyance of despair and feelings of loneliness, the album has a tendency to succumb to a sort of sameness that permeates much of the songwriting. As previously mentioned, Iteration is considerably streamlined in comparison to Com Truise’s prior works, especially the more synthwave-esque vibe of his Silicon Tare EP from last year. However, that leaves a tendency for the actual songwriting here to repeat certain ideas over and over again. Most notably, the songs have an obvious progression of introductory synth sections, then a verse with drums, followed by an ambient break, and then segueing back into the verse. It becomes more predictable as the record goes on, as you’re almost able to call the exact moments in the song where the break is going to happen.
It’s understandable for the album to try and keep a consistent mood throughout, but the over-reliance on this predictable song structure can make the songs bleed into one another after a few listens. Tracks such as “Vacuume” and “Usurper” tend to fade into the background, and they don’t stand out much during the main experience. This can also be said of the album’s weakest track, “Dryswch”, a song which attempts to convey a nighttime twilight atmosphere through its composition, but it mainly feels like an afterthought. It’s a shame because the good songs are really good, and there’s a lot of moments where the album’s progression through its emotional highs and lows can really work, especially once the album gets to the closing title track with its dancier beats and more triumphant bouncy atmosphere. It feels like a solid capstone to the lengthy journey of the astronaut Com Truise, having progressed through many emotional hardships and now able to leave and complete his journey.
For the most part, Iteration is a solid effort, packed with plenty of solid tracks that really work at projecting the emotional fears of isolation and anxiety when it’s at its best. The songwriting has a habit of getting repetitive in spots to the point where a good chunk of it is filler, but it’s still a worthwhile album that’ll merit a couple of listens and provide a lot for those looking to get lost in its somber soundscapes. I’m interested in seeing where Com Truise goes from here now that this first phase of his musical career has come to an end.
Verdict: Stream it. Iteration is a solid listen with good moody melodies and atmospheric soundscapes even if it feels like it’s jogging in place a bit.
Iteration is available from Ghostly International on CD, vinyl, cassette, digital download (iTunes, Bandcamp, etc.), and streaming services.
[Note: A pre-release copy of the album was provided by Ghostly International for the purpose of this review.]