Honestly, a winter’s concert at Pressed Café is as cozy as it gets.
On the first Saturday of March, it was quite warm in there and not everyone had room to sit down, many stood hugging walls and counters. Toronto’s Charlotte Cornfield and her band headlined a set of her newest songs from her upcoming album to be released this Friday via Consonant Records. She played “Big Volcano, Small Town” and “Aslan”, the earliest singles from Future Snowbird as well as the recently released “Mercury”, a song that features Ought’s Tim Darcy.
Her debut LP Two Horses dropped in 2011 after she put out two six-pack EPs in 2008 (It’s Like That Here) and 2009 (Collage Light). Since then, she’s been touring, writing songs, collaborating, and even being mentored by members of Broken Social Scene at the Banff Centre for the Arts last fall.
Wax copies of Future Snowbird were available and they quickly disappeared into fans’ arms. The bespectacled Canadian troubadour’s folk rock is framed in matter-of-fact lyrics about home, the road, and her sadness of being landlocked—all of which are a great backdrop to many a morning’s coffee or seeding party.
And somehow she manages to sing about serious, often upsetting moments while still laughing on stage, which is funny in itself.
Someone who also howls with pain on stage and looks like he’s having a blast is Ottawa’s Isaac Vallentin. Themes of self-deprecation and dark times don’t seem to match Vallentin’s grin in between his songs—he is a jolly performer. He was also grateful to play his final show in Ottawa hosted by the Arboretum Festival, and he sincerely thanked Rolf Klausener who worked the door that night.
Perhaps his gratitude was best summed up with, “I smoked pot with Chad VanGaalen because of Rolf!”
Isaac Vallentin playing Pressed Café, March 5, 2016. Shitty photos: Joseph Mathieu
Yes, Isaac Vallentin is leaving Ottawa—though not forever? Hard to say, since he’s been offered a one-year scholarship at the peculiar Fabrica Research Centre in the Italian wilderness. A multimedia designer by trade, Isaac will not only be learning to create better, faster and stronger designs, he’ll also learn to speak much more with his hands, as is common in Italia.
If he loves us, he will follow up last summer’s debut release of Hedera with his second LP before he flees for the Old Country. His set showcased many new songs, the only recognizable one of which was “Walk Out Together” off his Love & Devotion 7″ from November, so the chances are good that another album is currently being populated.
No pressure, IV.
The evening hosted by Arboretum started off with a gritty, psychedelic solo set by Trails. A young woman named Allie and her loop pedal welcomed the winter travellers into the café with simple riffs and a striking voice as she doled out a mix of experimental dream noise. Tracks from a bedroom floor, very personal sounds, are recent additions to her Bandcamp page (and one solitary track on this one). These have been adding a smattering of shoegaze and dream pop to the city’s underbelly at a pace that suggests there is more to come.
And I think it’s safe to saw that that would be lovely.
I listened to the entirety of Tölt, the long-awaited debut LP by Ottawa’s Flying Hórses, approximately six times before finally understanding that I would hear a different narrative on each pass. First I walked through Gormenghast, then through Cirith Ungol, but also through large meadows that could have been Hyrule. The music called “post-chamber” by two of the city’s most interesting musicians have created a bestiary of dark and beautiful creatures, deadset on being released August 15.
Cellist and composer Raphael Weinroth-Browne is part of several prolific bands that play a range of neo folk, classical and experimental chamber music. He said that Tölt would surprise most people who were familiar with Jáde Bergeron’s original compositions that she’s often played live over the past few years. I have to concede he wasn’t just hyping me up—this isn’t the same trip to the “Dollhouse” or ride around the “Carousel” that we’ve heard before.
And it’s not just the preeminent production by Birgir “Biggi” Jón Birgisson of the Icelandic Sundlaugin Studio that has brought on this change. The idea of the album still hinges a collage of childlike wonder that Bergeron has been exploring through music boxes and devotional bells, but it goes further now.
There are sonatas for cello accompanied by Bergeron’s piano, and what sound like piano/celesta duets. Sometimes the pairing of cello to piano is replaced with bells or chimes that Bergeron plays in what she credits as “sacred places” in Montreal and Reykjavík.
A song named “Spiladósir” begins much in the same way as some of the vignettes in this 14-track album but, unlike its shorter cousins, it fires off a dark and ambient rush of energy. It grabs you with a dissonance of music boxes, some even lending their mechanical crank to the metal storm.
On one listen, these shadowy songs reminded me of the score to 2014’s RPG Child of Light, composed by Béatrice Martin a.k.a. Coeur de Pirate. The orchestral arrangements by Gémeaux-nominated composer Anthony Rozankovic give the role-playing fairy tale story of that game a beautiful depth. However, listening to that music alone feels as though something is missing (a palette of pixels?) whereas an amble down Flying Hórses, with no supporting images or words, fills the listener with northern histories, nostalgia, and creatures far stranger and dazzling than pegasi.
The title track “Tölt” does not exactly trot, the most precise translation would be an ambling gait that is instinctive in Icelandic horses. It’s different than a gait though, and as a movement for horses it’s known to vary quite quickly.
I enjoy ambient background music as much as the next writer, but I’m also a sucker for liner notes and lyrics. Here, the song titles create a 14-word story that spans three languages: English, French & Icelandic. I’ll add a fourth, the German, since Tölt is a Bildungsroman—a coming-of-age story. It’s also a dream-like ride into dark places that are lit up by Bergeron’s vision of innocence and memory.
“Oubliette” is a dirge, maybe even a requiem. It’s the longest track of the 14 and does not conclude the album with a ribbon nicely tied at the end—it ends the album more than the final track “107” because it builds into an ellipsis, followed by a question mark that seems to say, “and the light shone so brightly that it blinded, covered everything, and suddenly there was—”
In December—stay with me—a Montreal label called Poulet Neige hosted their annual La Liste de Noël that allowed subscribers to pick between 80 or so albums they could download for free on Christmas Day. One such album, the only European release on the list, struck me: Pal Magnet EPby Alarmist. They are an Irish post-rock and jazzy experimental band that play sustained harmonies and a consistent drumming that I think of as overjoyed. Their music often spurred me through late-night writing assignments and kept me both concentrating and hyperventilating. They sound like much more than just four musicians but they are indeed a quartet that hasn’t changed a member from the beginning.
Just as legends of music encourage some to attend Jazz Fest, their name on the lineup was enough for me. Guitarist & keyboard player Barry O’Halpin of the quartet took the time to answer some of my questions last week. This year they’ll drop their debut LP. Some of the members have never been to Canada, as Alarmist this will be the band’s first Canadian tour: four shows in less than a week.
We’ve been playing around for a few years in various configurations of bands. Our self-titled EP came out in 2011, and Pal Magnet EP, came out in 2013. That last EP is kind of the first time that people outside of Europe heard of us. We’ve changed a lot since then.
“Morning, Kepler” is our latest single and we just finished the recording process for our debut album last month. Now we’re mixing & getting ready for the tour. Hoping to get it out for the fall, before a tour through UK & Europe.
It’s been almost five years since your first EP. Are you excited for your debut LP?
We haven’t finalized the date but we’re hoping for autumn. It’s our first full-length which is kind of exciting. I don’t feel like the EPs are warm ups to it, but as you can see we’ve been around for a while now. Only in the last year and a half have people outside of Ireland heard about us. You finally get the songs out into the world and people halfway across the world hear them… It’s kind of strange. It’s not really what you would expect.
Is one of you more of a leader than the others? Can you explain your roles?
We’re quite a democratic band, really. A song would start with someone’s idea, and we’d compose it, then someone else’s idea comes in, and we’d compose that. Then you bring in a kind of arrangement, an electronic mock-up of a song, and we start learning all the parts. We all make changes and argue about what should happen. One person’s sketch becomes the band’s composition. Every song ends up being something that wouldn’t have happened if left to one person.
I play guitar & keys, Elis Czerniak plays guitar & keys, Neil Crowley plays about 50/50 drums & keys, and Osgar Dukes plays drums. There is a lot of juggling of parts and we get quite a big sound out of four people. If there’s a lot of jumping between instruments on stage it’s not a flashy technical thing—we’re going for an expansive sound.
You’ve been described as “genre-stomping”, colourful, and just fucking wicked. How do you describe yourselves?
The easiest way to describe yourself is to find the most flattering description and point at that, ha-ha!
Well, I suppose our defining characteristic is a mix in genres. We don’t want to get pigeonholed into one genre or sound. We like to play a lot of post-rock with jazz influences. We all have varied backgrounds. I’ve done a little jazz guitar but I wouldn’t call myself a jazz musician per se. Neil has been to jazz school, specifically for jazz drumming. He’s the most grounded in Jazz. Elis has a classical piano background. We all bring different ideas to the table.
We seem to have got a lot of jazz bookings here and there. Also the math rock scene has picked up on us. As much as I don’t like being called math rock—because we’re not all about technical guitar playing—it’s a really big scene worldwide. We basically have to sum it up as experimental rock that mixes jazz, post-rock & electronica influences.
Your Pal Magnet EP was part of a free download program called La Liste de Noel by Montreal label Poulet Neige. It was the only European music in a long list of Canadian musicians. How did that come to be?
They approached us, which was nice. We were happy to get involved. It has a real reach. We got a call out of the blue, I’m not really sure how they found us originally. But now we have people aware of us in the Québec & Ontario regions.
Will you have a chance to experience some of the Festival you are playing? Who would you love to see?
We had a look at the lineup, a couple bands in particular we’d love to see but we’ll sadly miss are Kneebody, a contemporary jazz group, and Jaga Jazzist from Norway, we are big fans. It’ll be interesting to see the local acts as well. We haven’t had much contact with the bands we’re playing with. Good to see what they do in their scene.
Ottawa’s own atmospheric experimentalists Pony Girl (Pop Drone) have revealed their latest work, a new video for the track “Candy,” from their much-anticipated 2015 LP, Foreign Life. For those that are familiar with Pony Girl’s videos, it is well-known that they are champions of the strange, achieving their desired aesthetic through bizarre imagery and interesting visual techniques (see: “Golden Children“).
While the video “Candy” does not contain any visual orifices for us too peer from, it does contain a cheese pizza topped with onions that could very well be spinning for eternity. The lo-fi lyric text takes us through the song, mesmerizing us as the subtle guitar twangs balance out Pascal and Yolande’s delicate vocal harmonies. There is an instant sexiness to the song, and for some extreme pizza lovers as well. The sprinkling of electronic elements and reverb in the song contrast perfectly with the soft and restrained vocals and instrumentals.
On this day in Hull, an LP came out on E-Tron Records. They call it The First Empire but it will not be the last.
It’s been a long time coming for fans of Scattered Clouds, an experimental noise & psychedelic pop trio led by Philippe Charbonneau, with Jamie Kronick and Pierre-Luc Clément. The band’s beginnings are closely intertwined with the E-Tron’s genesis, as are all the musicians who collaborated on this album. The music is simultaneously quiet and chaotic, patient and peculiar. It’s aptly described as post-apocalyptic but we could drop that prefix and it would still make sense.
The First Empire is a six-song concept album that seems to have more singles than not, starting off strong with the doom-laden “Fallen” and their most recent release “Enchanteresse”, which came out with a twisted music video pieced together by Mike Dubue last month.
“Enchanteresse” grew on me faster than “People Walk”, which I’ve already been listening to for the better part of a year. A free CD of the single was handed out at a show at the Blacksheep Inn last March and the song remains as beautifully choppy and digestible as when I first heard it. It’s a journey of self and insanity, which are two themes that pair up often in The First Empire, and not just in the lyrics.
My favourite track however, which I relish even more because of its brief length, is the wordless “Floating Underwater” which immerses us with a marimba. It transitions catastrophically yet pleasantly into “Deepest Night”, an anthem of darkness that uses Charbonneau’s baritone voice to its greatest ability. It ends with the sunken lyrics “at the strangest hour…” and crashes into the most unhinged and experimental of the songs, the title track. The album almost passes in the blink of an eye but it is complex, what obviously took years to perfect.
Olivier Fairfield, who plays alternate percussion on three tracks, as well the marimba on “Floating Underwater,” also plays an integral part of E-Tron Records as the other co-founder and manager. Both he and Charbonneau began producing music that followed their aesthetic vision they had first encountered on their work with the band J’envoie, where Charbonneau actually came in after their record was complete. Pierre-Luc Clément also had a large part in that collective effort along with Patrick Sénécal & Nathan Medema.
Here’s where the details overlap. Cue The First Empire to get through this mesh of music.
You can’t discuss Scattered Clouds without discussing E-Tron. Both began in 2010 around the time the album La vitesse des chats sauvages by J’envoie came out. E-Tron Mountain was still an undiscovered shrine on the north side of the Outaouais that had yet to house bands like FET.NAT, Her Harbour, BOLD, and Ferriswheel.
“Avec J’envoie c’était un band avec une esthétique. Là, avec E-Tron, on s’rend compte que c’est pas un band c’est un groupe de personnes qui ont plusieurs bands qui font plein de choses différentes qui projettent cette esthétique là.”
Fairfield is a name that comes up a few times in the music corners of Hull. Olivier’s brother Guillaume runs Fairfield Circuitry, an industry-acclaimed pedal manufacturer that lends its powerful effects to bands all over the world. Their father Charles has mastered many of his son Olivier’s collabs as the owner and operator of the seasoned studio known as nCode. Olivier himself plays in FET.NAT (along with Scattered Clouds’ Pierre-Luc Clément), La Mort à la mode, J’envoie & Ferriswheel on E-Tron, and in the duo H. de Heutz, which is a sonic study of paranoia & pseudonyms inspired by the novels of Hubert Aquin, on Black Bough Records. His work has led him to join Timber Timbre, possibly Canada’s most celebrated experimental music at the moment, and to form Last Ex with Simon Trottier, also from Timber Timber.
All these parts of Fairfield’s work are touched on by Charbonneau in some way. Often, it seems, Philippe’s work is subtler than his partner’s, even subdued. He takes to the low vibrations of a deep voice and double bass that have created in Scattered Clouds the deliberate atmosphere of dread and adventure. Fairfield operates on a higher energy, with staccato percussion and piercing vocals. Together, they’ve created something that wouldn’t exist without the other, neither without the considerable collaborations of Clément, Trottier JFNO, Linsey Wellman & Gabrielle Giguère.
So, without leaning too heavily into conjecture I would describe The First Empire as a culmination of the vision that transformed E-Tron from an idea into a music machine. The industrious production they’ve pumped out in only five years has elevated the concept of a distinct music from Hull, and of experimental music in Canada as a whole, to the point where I see them far ahead of where other local labels still want to go. They’re an example to follow, for sure. To
This is the supreme authority that I see described abstractly as The First Empire. But here we are complete lost in conjecture as I feared… It is, before being a symbol, a strong album that was a long time in the making.
Scattered Clouds starts their tour this Thursday, and will host their official release parties in Ottawa & Hull on May 2 & 23. Follow the asterisks!
Minister of Ambient Replenishment at Black Bough Records and experimental cellist Mark Molnar from the Outaouais will join Montreal’s trumpet pundit Craig Pedersen and music revolutionary Joe Morris from Connecticut on their second day of a five-day tour through Ontario to Montreal. Trumpet player and cellist have collaborated before but never with free musician Joe Morris, a guitarist for more than 40 years, who is known in the jazz and improv community as an incredibly powerful and imaginative virtuoso.
Molnar urged me to talk to Morris about the show and his thoughts on music in general. In a 20-minute conversation I had with him on Sunday, I found that much of what I’d read about Joe Morris was not exaggerated.
“Most of what I do is completely improvised. That might sound like it’s a lack of preparation or that it’s easier but it takes an enormous effort to liberate myself from composition,” he said. “Those of us who play free music have to make up a framework of rules as we go. By building up a large amount of technique we can put on a performance that requires a lot skill and knowledge, a lot of imagination and daring.”
Despite his long career as a professional musician, Morris actively abandons all pre-determined ideas of what to expect from his musical associates. The issue is to just get together and make interesting music. “I don’t know Mark,” he said, “I just know he’s an incredible musician.” Molnar equally considers Morris to be a tremendous talent and a productive collaborator.
Morris is also a teacher in the jazz and improvisation department at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. In a nutshell, he teaches his students how to decipher what is happening between instruments to make it sound like music. He feels the conversation around improvisation is more about philosophy and less about music these days. What he has tried as a teacher is illuminate the essential properties that everyone employs when they improvise, to help young artists develop their skills, understanding and creativity.
“I think it’s good when people are open-minded about music. We should just expand our understanding of it. There isn’t any right way to do it, only each artists’ way to accomplish the goals they have. Free music might sound very chaotic, or very dense, or noisy, and it might sound lush and beautiful, because that’s what happens.”
Craig Pedersen is the co-founder of the Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais association (IMOO), and Morris met him at the 2013 Ottawa Jazz Festival. They stayed in touch, with Pedersen sending him his new music as he recorded it. According to Morris, Pedersen’s technique is up there with the absolute best trumpetists today and he was honoured to be asked to play with him and Molnar. Pedersen recently published a book on extended trumpet technique called Trumpet Sound Effects with Berklee Press in November 2014. He will be giving a lecture based on the book in Montreal at the Festival of New Trumpet Music Canada on March 15.
Morris has also written a book on his craft. Perpetual Frontier: The Properties of Free Music was written to help improvisational musicians learn to create their methodologies. Four seminal methodologies in improvisational music known as Unit Structures, Harmolodics, Tri-Axium Theory, and European Free Improvisation are all exemplified in this book. It’s also an insight for music fans who wish to know more about the history and use of improvisational music.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, and will feature another improvising trio opening: David Broscoe, Ian Birse & Laura Kavanaugh. All musicians from the region, they are part of the IMOO and all actively playing their brand of experimental off-the-cuff. To Morris, there could nothing better than young artists pushing themselves.
“That someone like me is invited to play,” he said, “to be able to encourage them to play, or to hire them to play, or to organize something that they can play on… It means I’m perpetuating the whole thing, that I’m keeping it going. It means that they see that we’re working off of the same premise, off of the same necessity. That deserves respect.”
Another local band coming to a stage near you this afternoon for the MEGAPHONO Festival is the Mehdi Cayenne Club, an intense folk rock Ottawa outfit.
Mehdi Hamdad has been playing music since he was a teenager and he’s been organizing and playing shows for over a decade now. The Mehdi Cayenne Club was formed in 2009, on the day Michael Jackson died — June 25. Mehdi is the songwriter in both French and English for all the songs, but completes his pieces with the help of his bandmates Olivier Fairfield and François Gravel.
“I bring all the songs (they grow on me like fungi), but they’re always enhanced by the composing and arranging skills of the others, who are all accomplished creators in their own right,” says Mehdi. “Songs are mostly about problem solving and, well, who doesn’t have problems?”
A problem he doesn’t have is choosing which language to write in, since it all just comes naturally. In a constant state of output, Mehdi puts every impulse and idea into his craft. Although he doesn’t award any particular importance to his bilinguism, he sees it as a means to an end.
“The apparent dichotomies of my identity are well exemplified by bilingualism,” he explains. “I do think that this ambiguity can foster more understanding between people and cultures. There must be a way out of us vs. them, red team vs. blue team mentalities, and I think bilingualism is perhaps a minor metaphor for developing a sense of being ‘us’ and ‘them.'”
On top of being a band member he performs solo shows, poetry nights, theatre pieces and even MCs events. His wide range of venues, from TEDxGatineau to Hearst High School, exemplify his ability to walk onto any stage and bring his brand of honest joie de vivre easily. He plays so many shows a year he doesn’t know how many.
His dance punk, or folky pop rock with a twist, make him an easy listen. His lyrics, however, are sharp, sometimes sad things. Being as openly emotional on his debut LUMINATA as on his sophomore release NA NA BOO BOO, we can expect nothing less from his third studio album, set to be released in May. The Medhi Cayenne Club is currently in studio with their new songs.
When asked what his favourite accomplishment would be, he had this to say: “There isn’t a specific event more than others… Generally I am grateful for the synergistic exchange that happens every time we sweat together, every time we sing together. I am grateful I can be honest on stage, in my songs – that’s all I have. Prizes and achievements are nice, but the feeling of being vulnerable and honest while going all out on stage… it’s what I’ll take to my grave.”
The Mehdi Cayenne Club will play today at 4 p.m. at Pressed Café with Jeremy Fisher and Amanda Rheaume as part of MEGAPHONO Festival. Check ’em out!
St. Alban’s Church hosted the first performances of the inaugural MEGAPHONO Festival last night and what a way to start! Getting things going was Hull’s experimental psych-rock group Scattered Clouds. On this night they were a duo (usually a three-piece) with one on synth, knobs and various other technologies out of my scope, the other on a guitar going through many different effect pedals and both contributing vocals it was quite a musical experience. On a night where Last Ex was playing, which features two members of Timber Timbre, it was very fitting to hear Philippe Charbonneau‘s deep voice on songs like “People Walk,” as it kind of reminded me of Timber Timbre’s lead vocals. It really worked well in the dimly-lit church.
Evening Hymns playing St. Alban’s Church during MEGAPHONO in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
“Welcome churchgoers,” said Jonas Bonnetta, lead singer, guitarist and mastermind of Evening Hymns from Mountain Grove, Ontario. “Get a little closer now, we are going to play some new songs.” And so they did. The folk-rock four-piece played several songs off their upcoming album Quiet Energy, due out “this summer-ish.” New tracks that really stuck out were “Evil Forces” and “House of Mirrors.” Bonnetta claims not to be a joker, but he certainly doesn’t struggle with banter between songs. His skills were called upon on this night as early during the set there were technical difficulties with the bass and patch chords. He entertained with a story about a dirty joke he heard from a drunk uncle of the bride at a wedding, but didn’t tell the joke as that would be too rude. He also mentioned that “not that you’ll have much sympathy for me but I threw my back out snowboarding behind a Ski-Doo and, well, I am quite sore.” When they got back to music, Evening Hymns later played the very moving and emotional song “You and Jake” which Bonnetta introduced by saying “This song is about my brother… it is always nice to play it in a place like this, and I want to dedicate it to Jon Bartlett.” The set was capped off with Bonnetta alone on stage performing a solo rendition of the title track off Evening Hymns incredible album Spectral Dusk.
Last Ex getting all experimental during MEGAPHONO at St. Alban’s Church in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
After a short turnover, Last Ex took to the stage and simply put, melted my brain. They play a really cool and out there instrumental music that blew me away. This was the coolest and most captivating instrumental performance I have seen since Explosions in the Sky. They were a three-piece, guitar, drums and keys, for most of the set but a violinist joined them on some songs and took it up another notch. The entire set had me in a trance of delight and constantly wondering where they would go next. Wonderful job, gang. With no microphones to speak into, drummer Olivier Fairfield addressed the crowd by speaking into the microphone of his left-hand tom. As they were about to launch into their final track, Fairfield said “Thank you, this is our last song and let’s all go to TARG after.” For a better understanding of Last Ex check out their video for “Girl Seizure.”
With all the music done it was time to hit the Rideau Canal, don our skates and head to House of TARG for more music. We started as a small group of three, but caught up with some other MEGAPHONIANS on their way and grouped up. It was a lovely intermission before The Yips and Fet.Nat tore it up at TARG.
Several brave music junkies making their way to House of TARG via the Rideau Canal during MEGAPHONE Festival in Ottawa, ON. Photo: Eric Scharf
Well, here we go again. As this city continues to build its repertoire of creative endeavours and off-the-wall projects, why not keep pushing the limits by integrating sight and sound with a space where visual art lives? I’ve always found art much more intriguing when it is combined with other forms – many of us want to be consumed and surrounded by a barrage on our senses. Experience it all yourself on Nov. 27, as it will be PWYC entry and cash bar. More details below !
Below is a new video for ‘Rain Song’ by Bosveld shot by Ottawa’s Pascal Huot.
Show Details: Dustin Finer & Daniel Freder + Bosveld
La Petite Mort Gallery (map) 306 Cumberland St, Ottawa
Ottawa is full of strikingly talented musicians, many of whom have made themselves very comfortable beneath the under layer that we call Ottawa’s music community. It should come as no surprise that many of these creative types take on more than one project, whether in the same artistic field or something completely different.
Heavy Bedroom is the side project and brainchild of Alex Maltby, who you may recognize as guitarist of local experimental noise rock band Roberta Bondar (soon to be name-changed due to their name’s resemblance to an astronaut, to whom the band is completely unrelated). A few years back we heard about a new act in town that was an offshoot of Bondar, and something different altogether… mind you, with the same experimental aesthetic and mysterious, fatal undertones. Thus, Heavy Bedroom was born.
The band also consists of Maltby’s Bondar counterpart, drummer Tyler Goodman, ex-New Teeth and still HAMILTON bassist/supporting vocalist Matthew Gilmour, and Cory Lefebvre on synth & guitar. Collaborations, I would argue, are an incredible way for artists to explore the depths of their creativity and unhinge themselves from any artistic confines they may find themselves in at times. Hearing I Saw An End for the first time really blew my mind, as you can hear their forces all coming together to create this short, yet masterful album.
Maltby released some demos and performed as Heavy Bedroom, but never fully released anything serious until now. That, of course, doesn’t go to say that the self-titled release a couple of years back wasn’t worthy of its own release and praise. I was a huge fan, and had it on repeat. To hear the mixed and mastered versions of I Saw An End is exciting, as it embodies a project that is no longer just a “side project,” but something that more people will hear in full and surely enjoy.
As mentioned, the album has a distinctly mysterious and affected feel to it, one that admirers of Chad VanGaalen will savour. Maltby’s vocals are delicate and subdued, which compliments the melodic, clean reverb guitar heard on songs such as “Hell Is Not” and “I Ate Apples,” as well as darker, heavier songs such as the title track and the consuming, haunting finale “I Left It.” However, there is also a dissonance that emanates from the album as well, with episodes of discord and tension that balance with the moments of peace and subtle beauty. This is where the greatness of not only the album, but Heavy Bedroom lies. There is no fear to pursue both the dark and the light, and to make the listener balance on a tightrope between the flight to heaven and the fall to hell. The band allows us to become attached, but not too comfortable. The next turn in any given song can never be anticipated. This can be heard no better than in the song “The Sun And Its Glare,” which begins with noisy havoc and ends in melancholy:
Goodbye, my friend. I’m leaving you here.
The album was recorded and mixed by another Bondar co-conspirator Gary Franks (Roberta Bondar, Silkken Laumann, CEREMONY, ex-As The Poets Affirm) and mastered by Sam Seguin. The incredible cover artwork was done by Penny Davenport, check out more of her work on her website.