From to the electro boogie of Dâm Funk and Krystal Klear to the indie psychedelic reveries of Washed Out and Toro Y Moi, we are in the midst of a wave of vintage synthesiser music that once again raises the tricky question: Where does pastiche end and tradition begin? The latest surge in the retro-future front comes equipped with swaths of ’80s pop culture references: Tron, neon graphics, arcade machines, VHS cassettes, Soul-Glo, satin jackets, etc. But do the wiggly-worm synth leads and crashing stadium syndrums in these records have a function beyond kitsch?
Com Truise doesn’t shy away from the debate. The blend of obsolete technology and sci-fi optimism present in track names like “Futureworld,” “VHS Sex” and “Cathode Girls” prove Truise (aka Seth Haley) is tapped into the same vein of nostalgia as his contemporaries. Much like Hyetal’s recent Broadcast LP, Galactic Melt references everything from John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder film scores to the shameless dramatics of synth-twiddlers like Jean Michel Jarre and Tomita.
But more recent developments are audible too. There’s a dancefloor drama to these tracks that comes not just from vintage electro and Italo disco, but from techno, IDM and trance. You can hear echoes of Squarepusher‘s friendlier tracks in the deft programming and chord patterns of “Cathode Girls,” and of new-generation U.K. grime producers like Joker and Swindle in the staggered beats of “Hyperlips” and “Glawio.” With that easy sense of continuity, and with the instantly buzzing dancefloor sensibility of every track, all the crashing synthetic snares, robot voices and cheesy electro arpeggios don’t sound so silly after all. In fact, they sound kind of thrilling.