REVIEW: “IMP (Live at Utica Brews)” (LP) by Ian C. Bouras
The last eight months have seen the entire world fall into isolation, partly by choice and partly by government intervention, but this new era we’re entering as a society isn’t just bringing out the creativity in common folk — it’s fostering a new chapter for the experimentalist movement.
Take Ian C. Bouras for example — this songwriter and ambient musician has been in the game for well over a decade now, but in his new work — “IMP (Live at Utica Brews)” — he lets us take part in what could be one of his most stimulatingly engaging recordings to arrive since he first came into the spotlight years ago. He hides behind no thick basslines or crashing drums, and when put at the center of attention before a live audience, Bouras proves that he has what it takes to improvise on the fly and produce something that can hold people’s attention for over 45 minutes (which isn’t an easy feat in any genre of music, let alone something this experimental and cerebral). “IMP” has the potential to be a game-changing release for this artist, and it’s one I’ve had a tough time putting down since getting my own copy just a couple of weeks ago.
Tonal expressiveness is the most important element for us to connect with in “IMP (Live at Utica Brews),” and not only because there aren’t any lyrics through which we’re able to breakdown the narrative at hand. Sonically speaking, there’s a lot of might coming at us as we go into the depths of what this track has to offer, but it’s never so potent that it feels as though Bouras is overreaching and trying to put something together that just isn’t possible from within the limited confines of a venue like Utica Brews. The textures in this piece are what indicate to us when we’re transitioning from one improvised thought to the next, and never is there an instance in which we’re denied to ability to hear and feel these textures in all of their uncut glory. The charm of “IMP” is that it’s completely unfiltered and raw beyond what any square listeners would be able to handle; for those who need something exclusive on their shelf, this is a worthy addition and a half this summer.
If “IMP (Live at Utica Brews)” is on par with what we should all be expecting from Ian C. Bouras as he embarks on the next decade of his career, he’s going to find that the 2020s are a lot more embracive of his sound than the 2010s ever could have been. This is a turning point for his music, and I think the New York underground needs to be taking note about what it’s telling us about the future. Bouras has never been one to back down from a challenge in the past, but if there’s anything this is indicating in all 47 minutes it lasts, it’s that he isn’t satisfied playing the same material over and over again — he’s looking to go bigger and better than ever before.