Have Yourself a Tenebrific Day with Cancelled

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What do you do when an album is mini enough to merit a mini-review yet good enough to demand many more words? Find out inside.

The promotional materials for Tenebrific, the new EP by Canadian one-man project Cancelled, would have us believe that this is just a puny little side project designed to kill time. If that is the case, then Marc Bourgon should *ahem* cancel all his other projects and focus solely on this—because it is very good and probably better than those other projects (although never having heard them I cannot say for sure).

 

Previous EP Threshold Adjustment was a grimy and unhappy marriage of sludge and power electronics, where textural experimentation took precedence over song craft. Despite the title, Tenebrific brightens things up considerably. It still crackles at times with faint vestiges of noise and rancor, but the songs are infinitely more songlike, full of space and warmth and opulent with memorable moments. Rather than wallowing in a closed loop of nihilism, each one seems to tell part of a greater story.

Bourgon’s newfound skeletal melodicism tickles something in me that usually only gets tickled by the sonic palette of late ’80s/early ’90s indie rock. And yet the delivery is modern and metallic. Which basically means that Cancelled sounds like a slowed-down and hollowed-out take on the sludge pop of Floor. But Bourgon replaces that old slop-trough of terrestrial distortion with keyboards and a soothing background whir of cosmic origin, so that Tenebrific sounds kind of like sludge pop composed by a veteran of synthwave; by a lone, homesick astronaut on a small ship orbiting a planet which—turns out—will not support life after all. Spinning slowly in his spacecraft, Bourgon dreads relaying this discovery back to Earth. At times he keeps himself company by crooning calmly; at others the rage of failure overcomes him and he yells at his equipment or the walls or at the void beyond in a gruff and accusatory voice.

My one and only complaint: This EP is too short, even for an EP. Like the single cup of coffee you permit yourself to drink each morning because your aging metabolism can no longer handle the flood of caffeine, it is over before you are ready for it to end. Each of Tenebrific‘s basic elements are familiar, yet combined here in an ingenious way that is both novel and captivating from the very first second of play. Using only bass, synths, a drum machine and his multi-faceted voice, in songs that are so simple they should be ridiculous, Bourgon achieves a sort of humble greatness. For fourteen minutes I was clutched to the breast of his space suit and held there and then it was over and I didn’t want to come home—I just wanted to be alone again in Space, orbiting that dead planet like a man who drags his weary bones toward a desert oasis even though he knows it is only a mirage.

4 Out ov 5 Flaming Toilets ov Space Hell


Cancelled will self-release Tenebrific on March 3rd. You can snag a CD or digital copy here. Cancelled does not seem to have a facebook page but you can drop by Marc Bourgon’s page and tell him the Toilet says _______.

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Lacertilian

    Prior to this thing, I would have said this thing is not my thing.
    Now, after reading about and hearing some of this thing, I am not so sure.
    Larger sample size required.

  • Howard Dean

    Romani people and Slavs.

  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    Gotta have more than one cup of coffee.

  • Rain Poncho W.

    Take me out behind the shed and put me down if I ever get to where I can’t process more than one cup of coffee.

    • I used to be able to drink a whole pot.
      The future sucks.

    • Howard Dean

      Hear hear. Keep it coming almost all day. Hell, I drink a cup after dinner a lot of nights (and not just when I’m partaking in a social four course dinner at a restaurant).

      • Rain Poncho W.

        My grandpa is 83 and still drinks like 6 or more cups a day. Some of those are decaf, but still.

        • Howard Dean

          That’s impressive, since I know a lot of older people tone back the caffeine since some already have enough trouble sleeping.

          If I ever get to an advanced age and don’t feel like living anymore I’m going to drink like three pots of coffee and go split firewood until my heart explodes. I think that’ll get me into Valhalla.

          • Rain Poncho W.

            My grandpa has outlived two wives and one girlfriend. He don’t give af about much anymore.

  • Likes this! Canada represent!

    I can picture Bob Ross doing the album cover too, beatin’ the devil out of his brushes.

  • Rain Poncho W.

    I like this. That riffing in “Social Impressment” reminds me a bit of Cult of Luna’s “The Watchtower.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjFNQix_cVI

  • Waynecro

    Excellent review, Richter! Nice work!

  • Hans Moleman

    It is liked. By me. Your words are also liked. Also by me.