A gentle tempo frames a muted, moaning melody as we listen to the first couple of bars in “The Struggle to Live,” the new single and music video from Ian Bouras, but we’ll soon discover that the layers in this track come together one at a time. There’s a hesitant emotional wallop just waiting to come undone here, but it’s not yet mature enough for us to access it in the first portion of the song – we’ll have to let the players dig deeper and the rhythm grows stronger, as only then will we be able to appreciate the full scope of their kinetic energy in this performance.
There’s certainly a lot of implied weight in the guitar parts here, but it doesn’t come across as synthetic. Truth be told, I get the impression that Bouras probably had to give us a slightly lighter version of what we would hear in a proper live performance just for the sake of brevity; truth be told, there’s a lot of damage he could do from a virtuosic perspective in this piece, he’s just choosing not to.
As we get into the midsection of “The Struggle to Live,” the textures become tense and uncomfortable in the enclosed space created by the lack of sustained sonic pressure, slowly but surely pressing against the implied rhythm and spilling over into the once-dark and cold corners of the master mix. Some shades of tonality find their way into the fold and lightly pepper the front of the track with a lack of harmony that is as cathartic as it is unsure of itself. There’s a myriad of feelings combusting and forming fireworks here, and as we get closer to the climax of the song, it becomes quite that mood was the main focus of Bouras in this latest release.
I would love to hear another artist collaborate with Bouras soon on a similarly meditative piece if for no other reason than to see what he can do with an extended drone. There’s an acrylic angularity to this performance that does not exist in the vast majority of ambient works that I cover, and the experimentalism of the arrangement aside, I actually believe that a lot of listeners unfamiliar with this kind of sound could find something to cling to inside of this artistry and the immensely esoteric tone it has no trouble setting forth in mere moments.
“The Struggle to Live” comes to an end with a lot more intensity than it starts us off with, but its conclusion doesn’t reek of excesses common among the surreal instrumentals celebrated by millennial audiences regularly in 2023. Ian Bouras’ steady beat and the glowing tonal presence of the guitar fuse to give us a compositionally minimalistic and yet sonically robust piece in this new single and its music video unlike any I’ve personally had the chance to review in 2023, and if you haven’t already given it a spin this February, I would recommend doing so the next time you’re browsing for provocative new sounds.