Ian Bouras – A Blind Painter LP
Guitarist Ian Bouras’ musical output is a study in overcoming adversity. His affliction Ataxia, a seldom identified neurological condition that affects his ability to play the instrument, has nonetheless failed to dampen his enthusiasm to create. He has toured, appeared in the press, and committed himself to spreading awareness of the affliction. He appears regularly at The National Ataxia Foundation booth at The Abilities Expo as well. The aforementioned commitment met its ultimate test during 2020 as, after demoing the material included on his new release A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath, Bouras spent the bulk of the year hospitalized in an assortment of psychiatric wards. He discovered, upon release, that he had forgotten how to play the material and decided to release the demos.
His distinctive looping technique is in full evidence on this instrumental release. Bouras’ method is to play a series of notes which repeat while playing additional notes that build on the initial theme. “A Fleeting Life in a Square” opens the release. It has a haunted, elegiac character from the outset and his moonlit guitar sound reverberates throughout the entirety of the piece. Bouras doesn’t often offer compositions with traditional structures, i.e. verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, but this has a definite sense of structure. The chiming near grace notes rife throughout “An Evening at the Villa” give the track an even lighter touch than we heard during the opener. It is notable that such an esoteric approach to music, even instrumentals, can prove to be such a compelling listening experience. This is typical of Bouras’ work.
Moreover, despite the demo nature of these compositions, they are remarkably complete. This is clear when you hear the track “Murals of Moments at The Devil’s Tea Party”. The spectral and atmospheric track has a gossamer-like quality but, nonetheless, there is a definite and fully formed mood defining the cut. “Solace in the Shade of the Universe” is far less gossamer. The lyrical slant of this recording makes it one of the highlights of the release. Bouras tends to write and perform longer pieces, but they are never exhaustive and this is no exception. “The Darkness That Clothed an Angel” is another highlight on A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath. The same definite shape characterizing the earlier track distinguishes this performance as well. There is an excellent balance between the melancholy and ethereal without veering too far one way or another.
The closer “Weeks Become Months, and Memories Become Melodies” has a wonderful poetic quality, as does much of the material on this release. Bouras never overplays; self-indulgence as a musician is not in his vocabulary. Demos or not, Ian Bouras’ new release packs the same dramatic impact as his previous releases, but it isn’t for everyone. The dreamy drift of each track may lull some listeners to sleep rather than invigorating them. If, however, you enjoy challenging and colorful textures, meditative pieces, Ian Bouras’ A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath is one of most interesting releases of this new year.