The Bedroomer has released his first single since his 2019 debut album Joaquin Phoenix. This new track, called “This is a Test,” was released on February 4th as the first single and title track for The Bedroomer’s 2nd full-length, set to release late this Spring. This marks a significant step for the solo project of Chicago-based artist Nathaniel Hoopes, who began the project alongside his work as the main songwriter and founding member of prog/garage rock band Crabulous.
“I was only writing verse/chorus keyboard parts to prog-rock music and it wasn’t really reflecting the kind of music I felt like I needed to make,” reflected Hoopes when I asked him about his decision to begin releasing music as The Bedroomer. “It’s hard to get rock n’ rollers to play softer experimental tunes,” he continued, “I’m by no means a front man, but I also struggle being a subtle presence in bands.” The result has been a tremendous burst of creative freedom for the multi-instrumentalist, who began his musical career as a pianist before branching out to other instruments.
This newest release seems clearly influenced by Hoopes’ passion for filmography, as “This is a Test” will also serve as part of the score of a film he wrote. In a good description of the haunting absurdism to the track, Hoopes described that “the stories that are the most successful are the ones that can turn huge and all-consuming topics into abstractions that the audience can then relate to their own lives…they make us have a greater appreciation for all the world’s beauties, whether or not they are painful or uplifting.”
‘This is a Test’ features a robotic vocal track telling a tale of anguish, loneliness and the search for a sense of hope. The song begins with a deftly composed, ethereal keyboard build compromising perfectly the abstract poetry of Hoopes’ lyricism, instantly evoking a sense of both relatability and pity for this vocal character who is “looking for something…looking for it,” who “used to be like you and me, but now is a man from another dimension.” A wonderfully implemented set of synth effects builds this dimension into which the listener is thrown, offered to observe the yearning questionings of this metaphysical saga of solitude. There is a real sense of voyeurism to the experience of listening to the deep emotionality of this robotic, empty character.
When I asked him about the inspiration behind this abstract epic, Hoopes replied “I tried to incorporate oddities from throughout my life. I’ve had strange dreams with images that I try to reflect in both my music and films. I came across a series of YouTube videos by this man named Tim Byrne who posts thousands of videos of him singing covers alone in his apartment…he’s a very strange man and I wanted to envision a backstory for him.” This peculiarity is certainly a primary feature of the track, as is the loneliness which it exudes.
At a significant turn in the song, our misunderstood wandering hero concludes that “this is a test,” as guitar chords wash over the complexity of the synth waves and muted screams that come to inhabit this anxious, celestial landscape of the song. The way Hoopes’ manages to capture the depth of this galaxy into which he invites the listener has a similar intangible air of a Beach House track set against the mechanical grief of Radiohead’s OK Computer.
A brilliantly curated song by its own merit, it’s especially impressive to note that Hoopes’ has been working as The Bedroomer alongside the demands of his studies as a senior film major at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that The Bedroomer’s music delights with its emotional and musical intelligence, well beyond the pressures of Hoopes’ daily college life.
“This is a Test” is polished, mature–unpredictable yet profoundly well-built, both comforting and deeply unsettling. The full album, of which Hoopes said “It’s a concept album that will be a companion to the film I’m directing…mostly instrumental but some folky vocals in there as well. I’m trying to blend the surreal and the real.” When it comes to what we can expect from the rest of this, The Bedroomer’s second full-length, Hoopes tells us to “expect unsettling and inspiring snapshots of the human experience that make you feel the crushing weight of it all.”
If this first single and title track is any indication of what the album will be like, it is worth of immense anticipation and attention—so be sure to go out and follow The Bedroomer on your preferred streaming platform and @nartaniel on social media for more news about the album and film This is a Test.