Have Yourself a Tenebrific Day with Cancelled
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
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 _______.