Ian C. Bouras’ latest solo effort Absence (live looping) showcases his guitar and melodic skills through an array of electronic treatments and effects. He demonstrates an immense understanding of manipulating sound and orchestrates each of the album’s fourteen songs in a way that draws your attention and holds it throughout. Absence is a professionally presented recording that never sounds like Bouras is taking any shortcuts in his role as the ultimate decision-maker regarding the album’s sound.
The electronic effects are obviously quite important to the album, but Bouras’ melodic skills come through during these performances as well. They are colorful compositions, across the board, and there’s not a hint of self-indulgence coming through – no small feat for a genre, instrumental music, that often loses its melodic focus in favor of showing off virtuosity. Absence (live looping) has considerable theatrics, but it’s always musically substantive.
The presence of effects on his guitar varies from one track to the next and, often, within the same song. “While You Were Gone” shows off wider melodic strands than some of the album’s later songs and adeptly invokes the title’s implied emotions of longing and loneliness. Absence excels, more than any other time, when it offers up an uncompromising vision of its creator’s musical vision and the opening track is among the album’s best embodiments of that ideal.
The melodic strengths continue to receive an airing with the album’s second track “Trappings of Oblivion” and they are a little busier here. Many of the album’s songs have quasi-poetic titles like this and the music backs up the conceit in those titles, but it never lays on its touch too heavy. “Thoughts of You” is one of the more brightly colored moments on Absence and there’s a stronger melodic character-defining this song than any of the earlier numbers.
“Conversations with Strangers”, however, takes the songwriting back to a darker place. The performance gradually builds intensity over its five minute plus running time and never loses its direction despite embracing the same near ambient textures we’ve heard from the preceding songs. The album’s seventh song “Words Never Whispered” styles itself as the album’s centerpiece musical number and certainly finds Bouras operating on a far vaster canvas than the earlier numbers.
Ian C. Bouras Takes Us To A Dark Place
One of the album’s briefest numbers comes with the spectral and foreboding “Haunted by the Memory of You”, but it makes a deep impact despite its comparatively short duration. There’s a near-psychedelic, freaked out quality to the track “Escape from Planet Brain (A New Reality)” and the insular world created by the soundscape will linger with listeners long after the final notes fade.
Absence’s most delicate moment comes with its penultimate track “The Art of Suffering Alone” and it has a much cleaner guitar sound than many of the earlier numbers. The plaintive guitar notes connect with the audience thanks to the production and the space Ian C. Bouras creates between notes. It’s the last inarguable gem on a studio release glittering with one jewel after another.
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