Debut EP Cyanide Sisters showed an embryonic producer still figuring out his sound. While he had already established the bright and squeaky synth melodies that characterize his work, the EP had an emphasis on chunky, distorted low-end that took him closer to other lo-fi nostalgia fiends. Not so much on Galactic Melt: Com Truise glides into view in full colour on his Ghostly International-released album, no more muddy-low end or stilted structures, just pure digital finesse. It's still a little bit woozy—damaged tapes overwhelmed with heat, humidity, and age—but in terms of fidelity it's miles ahead of supposed peers like Neon Indian. Com Truise's palette is so painstakingly conceived that it might fool you into thinking it's some buried gem from 1987. The only thing that marks it as 2011 is its unique sense of wry humour (titles like "VHS Sex") or the bits of occasional gnarly distortion ("Cathode Girls").
The most striking thing about Galactic Melt is its melancholy. Even on a track like "VHS Sex"—where a robot voiceover deadpans the ridiculous title—there are moments when the synths seem to break their facade into split seconds of grief or sadness. Elsewhere, tracks like "Hyperlips" have grand intros and slow, creeping progressions that crib from late-period Pink Floyd (of all things). A Momentary Lapse of Reason, that most hated of bloated dinosaur comeback albums, is actually a decent reference point for Galactic Melt: booming drum machines, melodies as mournful as they are elated, blatant references to technology, and a penchant for dramatic reverb ("Glawio") untouched by taste or restraint.
When you have so many people working in a similar field—with one foot in the hypnagogic puddle and the other in the M83-inspired Hughes hole Truise is shot by both sides—you have to work hard to set yourself apart. That's the troubling thing about Galactic Melt—it's hard to deny that it's immaculately well-produced, but aside from a tear-jerking melody here and there it's just as hard to pinpoint what makes him special. That, coupled with the aesthetic distance that comes from tracks designed with a particular time and space in mind, leaves the whole thing feeling a little cold. There's no doubt that Galactic Melt is a fun album by a more than capable producer, but depending on your answer to that question I posed at the beginning of this review, that might not be enough.