One man band Nostra Cantus (I know you read Nostradamus the first time because I did too) has completely renamed the game with his overdeveloped and unique sound on his new album Ink Wash Painting…or has he?
Six songs and fifty-two minutes of confusing yet artful thought patterns reopen the age-old question: Does genre matter? In most cases, we tend to think, “Well, if genre shouldn’t matter, how else are artists supposed to innovate and pave the way for new creation?” There is no answer. You can invent whatever path you think should exist, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, where the story begins to get a little complicated, is when you bring the audience into the mix. Nostra Cantus daringly smashes into several styles throughout this album, which does well on paper, but seems a bit excessive in practice. Ranging from classical piano,theatrical piano,jazz, black metal,death metal, to sludgy areas of hard distortion and switches between vocal styles that never really seam together perfectly.
The start of the record is arguably the best and easiest to cling to, before all the chaos commences. Quickly descending into a puzzling cacophony of different styles trying to get along but just sounding like they’re aggressively smashing into each other rather than harmoniously dancing to the same rhythm. Following our first dose of genre-jumping, we’re hit with some vocal style jumping too, ranging between some pretty decent growls to clean singing that is almost always off key, to spoken word that lacks depth and ominous quality…. not to mention the spelling mistakes, but that story is for another day. The endless mixing of ideas continues throughout the record, almost always ending up in a melting pot of anything and everything.
“And He Marches in Agony” has a slightly more solid footing and fuses opposing ideas in a much more organized,but still sort of disorganized fashion. This approach is much more useful for channelling emotion in a storytelling order, so as to actually communicate solid ideas rather than a mess of every idea that has ever existed.
“An Damned Heritage” (no, there is no grammar mistake there, I promise you) seems to still be confusing in the same ways as its brethren, but hangs onto the previous track’s structure, which luckily enough seems to save this song a little, before ending in a two-minute symphony of Nostra Cantus’ laughs. I kid you not. The 8-year-old inside me that’s banged on the voice sounds of a keyboard is impressed; the near 30-year-old listening today? Not so much.
My final thoughts are still confused, even after several listens to try and decipher the meaning behind this piece of art. A future album would likely benefit greatly from being completely in the artist’s first language so as to avoid silly mistakes that can easily be corrected by a Google search, and hold off a little on trying every genre all at once. Mastery does in fact, begin with humility.
Written by Talia Plante
*Edited by Dominic Abate