Most people go of to college to find themselves. In 2011, Massachusetts-based multi-instrumentalist Ian Coss instead went of to East Asia for two years, spending invaluable time in Japan and Indonesia. The experience set the tone for his upcoming record, An Act of Imagination, out in December via Western Mass upstart label Fashion People Records, which was written abroad but then recorded in Massachusetts over the past year.
“East-Asian exodus, Dengue Fever, Murakami characters,” says Coss. “It has been a journey.”
One of the standout tracks off the record is the infectious “Ten Days,” and you can watch its new music video below.
“While abroad, I spent a year in Bali, Indonesia, living with a composer and studying Gamelan music,” Coss tells Vanyaland. “This song was in fact written 10 days before I left the island, at a moment when I was gripped by the irrational fear that something terrible would happen in that time. Nothing did. If anything, that paranoia was covering for the very real anxiety of leaving a place and not knowing if I would ever return. That too has its own terrifying finality.”
Of An Act of Imagination as a whole, Coss adds: “The songs began as musings—imagined scenarios, inflated anxieties, and memories of what I had left behind—all filtered through the haze of dislocation and peppered with the jarring imagery of the outsider’s eyes. My musings grew into fantasies that tread the boundary of lived and imagined, and occasionally crossed over entirely. Even as my thoughts strayed inward and outward, they were always a product of circumstance, of being alone in a strange place where so much was uncertain that the mind had no choice but to conjure its own meaning.”
Back home, Coss recorded with drummer Bill Carbone (Max Creek, Melvin Sparks) and bassist Alex Chakour (Charles Bradley, Eric Krasno). “When the sounds I imagined strayed beyond our skills, I called old friends who brought strings, winds, and harmonies,” he says. “The result is a lush and varied instrumentation that remains familiar at heart. An Act of Imagination is no fanciful east-meets-west fusion project, nor is it a singer-songwriter’s stripped-down foreign dispatch. This is a rock record from far away, expat Americana with an overactive imagination.”
An Act of Imagination celebrates its official release December 4, with a release party at Wonderbar in Allston five days later. There are 40 days until that event; in the meantime, allow Coss to introduce himself via the “Ten Days” video below.