I’ve heard earlier Ian Bouras releases and know some of his history, both personal and professional. He’s been active on the independent scene as a guitarist, producer, and songwriter for many years and now wrestles with effects from the rare neurological ailment Ataxia. His support for others with this affliction spurs yearly performances for advocacy organizations and forced him to pursue a new way of approaching his guitar work. A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath, his latest release, features his usual method of building tracks through the use of guitar looping – Boras plays a note that repeats for a given time and builds from there with additional notes.
The effect, at its best, is hypnotic. Accumulating note upon note, constructing soundscapes reflective of his inner world, these are among the album’s defining qualities. It is insular music, without question, and its appeal is narrow. A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath is an example of an artist doing exactly what they want to do, what they need to do, and hoping to bring an audience along with them. “A Fleeting Life in a Square” is the work of a musical artist unwilling to compromise their vision for anyone. Its unique texture is characteristic of Bouras’ work but newcomers appreciating a specific type of guitar instrumentals will be great fans of his work.
“Murals of Moments at the Devil’s Tea Party” has a light edge missing from many of the other album tracks, but edginess means something much different on an Ian Bouras release. It has a stormier emotional center, restless with discontent, but the same light touch shaping his guitar work in general. “Solace in the Shade of the Universe” has a dreamier gait than any other tracks, an expected turn given its title, but it thankfully never smacks of cliché in anyway. Bouras is far too individual to succumb to such traps and can never be accused to being creatively lazy. It’s another track that runs long but Bouras is unique in the way he never risks exhausting listeners.
The spectral melodic strands Bouras weaves together into “The Darkness that Clothed an Angel” has a wonderful echo in in the background enhancing its atmospherics. It is to his credit that Bouras can successfully fashion such sonic environments without ever sounding overwrought; a composition like this, in lesser hands, would sound false and overdramatic. “Weeks Become Months, and Memories Become Melodies” is a spot-on finale for A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath. It has all the musical poetry of his best pieces, the pristine slow burn generated by his guitar talents, and boasts a sharper emotive edge than earlier tracks.
Ian Bouras’ A Blind Painter’s Guide to Coloring Breath doesn’t suffer from its status as demo recordings made public. It isn’t often you can such things. Demos are often rough-hewn and ramshackle, but not here. Ian Bouras, instead, has released a recording equal to his best and glimmering with promise for his future. Newcomers will either love or hate Bouras’ music, but longtime admirers will flock to this new release.
by Bethany Page