I am more than a little impressed by this release. Closed minds without much musical taste might deem it music to fall asleep to, but Ian Bouras’ instrumental showcase A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space, presented as a live DVD of six filmed performances, demonstrates why he is rightly regarded by those in the know as being one of the more compelling guitarists and composers in the indie music world, but I hesitate to box him into that particular niche. It seems a disservice to his talents. It is all the more impressive considering that Bouras lives with the neurological condition Ataxia that, in due course, may altogether rob him of his ability. You would never notice it watching these performances and seeing the blissed out look on his face when he is under the spell of making music for those who care to listen.
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The deep feeling he puts into his art is obvious in each of the six parts. Bouras doesn’t approach instrumental music as some sort of neglected soundtrack for a movie never made but, instead, as a sonic manifestation of his inner weather. That might sound high flown, but it is what this music communicated to me on my first listen. There is a star-struck near ethereal soulfulness pervading each part of A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space that you hear even in Part 1. He mixes melody and ornamental touches with flawless timing and one of the abiding qualities of the release as a whole, patience, is in full evidence here. Bouras never pushes anything too fast. He allows his muse to bring these compositions together at their own speed and lives in the moment of each performance.
Given his musical history, I am betting the compositions are improvisational. If this bet is right, his accomplishment here is even more of a standout – far bigger names than Ian Bouras would struggle to assemble such cohesive and coherent musical narratives without multiple takes and revisions. He uses a glass slide to add extra sonic diversity to Part 2, but the array of tools he utilizes throughout the release are not present just for show. Even the chimes on the end of his guitar neck, though they make for an interesting visual, add musical value to the performances thanks to their clear connection to his physical movement. He begins Part 4 using the aforementioned glass slide as part of the foundation for his loop before setting it aside and its presence colors the piece overall. His attention to detail is particularly notable here as he alternates between chords and slow phrases plucked out by his fingers. His sensitivity as a player is beyond question.
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Part 6 concludes the release with a surrounding autumnal glow. His understated vibrato, commonly considered the signature part of any guitarist’s sound, serves this track well without ever seeming ostentatious. This performance seems a little more improvised than most on A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space, but that is no slight about its quality – if anything, it is bracing to hear and see him working out his creative process for those of us who may never have the opportunity to see him performing live in close quarters. It also brings the release to a well conceived emotional end in keeping with all that has come before. I am impressed, yes – and I hope to hear more Ian Bouras in the near future.