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.
Have a listen to the Heavy Bedroom’s new album I Saw An End below, and don’t miss them open for Kalle Mattson at Raw Sugar Cafe on Thursday, Oct. 15!