Ian Bouras’ latest musical release A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space is another instrumental offering recorded and filmed as a live DVD rather than a customary studio release. The unique experience of watching Bouras work out his compositions while we hear them is an unique approach from a musician, songwriter, and composer whose career has specialized in such daring. Since first emerging into the public eye during the first years of the 21st century, Bouras has moved from fronting more traditional formats into a solo career as varied and challenging as any I’ve heard in nearly a quarter century of serious music attention. He has released a number of solo instrumental recordings as of this date, but I believe his efforts in this vein have reached a new peak with the release of A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space. It’s a release that begs multiple listens to fully digest.
Part 1 of the release does a beautiful job of introducing listeners and viewers to the sonic world he invites us into. A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space is an instrumental release, like Bouras’ other forays into the world of guitar looping, but any new arrival to this artist expecting to be bored early on by such an approach will be surprised. He mixes melody and pure sound experimentation rather well relying on some tried and true elements common to guitar – for instance, a glass slide he employs throughout the recording – as well as unexpected additions like wind chimes affixed dangling from the guitar’s headstock. Melody rules the day in Part 1, but Part 2 takes things in a slightly different direction.
He expands his range without ever betraying his core sound. Part 2 begins focusing more on delving into possibilities of sound manipulation instead of fixing its attention on melody, though Bouras brings those elements into play soon enough. They are never far from the edges of his music. I am especially taken with the faraway look in his eyes during Part 3 of the release. Music casts a spell over this artist and it is evident in each of the six parts but somehow leaped out at me in more demonstrative way during Part 3. This part, as well, refocuses our attention as listeners on the melodic merits of his work, though they do strike a note of wistful sadness. It never burdens listeners however.
Part 5 finds Bouras breaking open a whole new bag of “tricks” as he creates a drum track of sorts for the piece by slapping his guitar neck, tapping, and scratching the strings before launching into the track full on. It is one of three ten minutes plus long pieces included on the release and provides a climactic moment of sorts for A Chipmunk’s Interpretation of Space. The finale Part 6 is the bookend for the release, briefer than any of the earlier parts by far, and has the same effect as watching a leaf fall from a tree in a gentle fall wind. Bouras has a definite penchant for ending his releases on just the right note and this is no exception. Anyone who is a fan of instrumental guitar music and envelope pushing will appreciate what he has accomplished here.