Conte -Conte EP
Record Label: Shadowtree
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Something I find appealing in the majority of the music that I listen to is when an artist is willing to upset the status quo they have set for themselves and do something entirely new. A genre change, a switch-up in the mixing hierarchy of sounds, or something as simple as adding a further depth with small accents and details. Even more bold is the risk of not just upsetting the status quo, but abolishing it entirely, challenging expectations of the fans, and expanding the palette of the artists. Experiments, by their nature, can either be a breakthrough, or blow up in your face. But either way, musicians always gain a new perspective on their craft, and whether they continue with their new path or go back to their old, that experience remains.
It’s been over two years since Jack Conte’s last release, VS4, an album I personally felt was competent, but not outstanding, neither standing out on its own, nor showcasing just how talented Conte is. After relative silence for these two years, he has come back like a rubber band, snapping the opposite direction in terms of sound with his newest offering, the Conte EP. A completely techno album, it is a different beast altogether from anything Conte has done before; the EP does not showcase his multi-instrumental prowess, but rather his talent at mixing various elements together, not unlike the giants of the techno and dubstep landscape Skrillex and DeadMau5, with significant influence from Daft Punk also easily being felt. Lots and lots of Daft Punk.
The question of whether or not this is a beneficial change of pace for Conte remains difficult to determine. The inherent curse of techno and dubstep is its overt difficulty to communicate what qualities cause it to be enjoyable, and as such, the Conte EP is no exception. The mixing is solid, the beat is danceable, and the melodies are decent. But beyond a few little accents of piano and immensely distorted electric guitar, there’s no definitive or signature sound here that would make the average listener be able to discern Conte from most other techno acts. “I Know Better,” the first track, has a nice little chord progression in its verse that makes the track somewhat memorable, and “Pedals,” the third track of the short EP is a funny little tribute to effects pedals, but outside of that, there’s not a lot here, being woefully short as it is. It leaves the EP with nothing distinct to recall, unless you include the music video for "Pedals".
Conte’s most nuanced and strong work is still definitely his early “Electronic Acoustica” video songs and EP’s, but the craftsmanship of this short little electric romp would no doubt be welcome on rotation in the rave scene or the gym. Its length—or lack thereof, rather—works against it, not offering enough of a sample to see what Conte’s true techno chops would sound like; this is a release that was begging to be a full-length LP. Regardless, being a free EP, it is certainly worth the download, and will whet the appetite of techno lovers. If anything, the EP is an excellent teaser that makes me optimistic for future offerings in this style from Conte.