Jack Conte, Sleep in Color

Jack Conte, Sleep in Color

Jack Conte’s Sleep in Color EP surprised me, with its rich, multi-faceted effects. Such a short endeavor could’ve easily gone unnoticed, but this one packs a lot into five songs. Each one involves a multitude of instruments, with a melody backed by various other parts, which mesh together to create a flowing odyssey of sound that lives up to the title.

Classifying this under a specific genre feels wrong, so I’ll just say I can imagine this EP as a soundtrack to a vivid dream that wouldn’t make sense in reality but works perfectly in REM sleep. As it turns out, his last album was entitled Nightmares and Daydreams (very similar to Stephen King’s collection of short stories, Nightmares and Dreamscapes, coincidentally), so apparently Conte spends a good amount of time reveling in the wonders of the night.

His fame started on YouTube, with a collection of “VideoSongs” he created that take mashups to a whole new level by adding the visual to the audio. They quickly became a Web sensation, and Conte’s innovative nature instilled in these videos can be seen in his albums, as well. The videos can be viewed at www.youtube.com/jackcontemusic.

Conte uses multiple types of pianos and synthesizers, including an organ and a ’72 Wurlitzer, to make all the noises he desires, even using one over his own voice, giving him a quaver like that of Todd Fink from The Faint. Besides that, he loves drum machines, sleigh bells, accordions, and glockenspiels, which are each incorporated in such a small but useful way that really adds to the mix without seeming overbearing or childish.

Each song reaches a climax with him screaming, a motif that’s at times backed by other vocalists, but the emphasis still lies with the topsy-turvy music itself. There are few lyrics to speak of, but the ones present are just as whimsical as everything else and lift the listener to a place of solitude.

“Carousel Waltz” truly sounds like the music on a carousel ride, with the Renaissance circus-like music playing behind the almost hidden, jazzy guitars. I can’t help but laugh during the opening song, when out of nowhere Conte sings in a slow, gradually rising pitch, “Someone’s taking my clothes off.” This line stands out above all else, no matter how many times one listens to the song, and in a way it adds to how trippy this album is, like Conte is admitting, “I’m so confused about what’s going on, I don’t even know who’s undressing me!”

I’m most impressed by the fact that he not only wrote the songs himself, but also recorded and produced them solo. He obviously put in some extensive time in the recording studio to create the layered effect he’s achieved with Sleep in Color, and for that, I applaud him.

Feature photo by Cody Weber.

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Review by . Review posted Wednesday, July 21st, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Jack Conte, Sleep in Color

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Pomplamoose Covers “Angry Birds” on May 12th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    […] might recognize YouTube music-makers Jack Conte (whose solo album SCR reviewed & liked last year, actually) and Nataly Dawn from a bunch of Hyundai commercials back around Christmastime, […]

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