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Ian Gordon - The Box CD (album) cover

THE BOX

Ian Gordon

 

Neo-Prog

3.60 | 16 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'The Box' - Ian Gordon (5/10)

Although directing most of his muse towards his band Drama, songwriter and musician Ian Gordon has found it suitable to pursue a solo career. Compiling his solo work into one album, this recording has not seen a physical release, but instead has been distributed freely through digital format. A sprawling two hour collection of songs, Ian Gordon certainly did not leave any stones unturned with this album, and it is clear that there has been been a lot of time and effort put into making this project come to fruition. Even so, I do not find myself entirely convinced by what 'The Box' offers, and though promise of something greater seeps through the cracks more than once on this longwinded observation, the whole doesn't seem to have quite amounted to the sum of its parts.

'The Box' is apparently a quasi-conceptual album that seeks to expose the 'darker parts of human nature', the parts of our consciousness that we push below the threshold for better or worse. Boasting such an ambitious concept, it is clear that Ian Gordon has invested 'The Box' as a multi-layered work that should keep its listeners busy for weeks as they attempt to unlock this box. This makes it that more of a disappointment when so much of the album comes off as somewhat cold and dispassionate. Not so much in the writing of the music itself- which is sometimes excellent- but the production and performance of this music is so bumpy and rough that it becomes difficult to see the album as anything but a mixed success. There are certainly successful elements here, but there are sharp lacks in consistency that should have been addressed while making the album.

'The Box' is a two hour spectacle of sometimes-theatrical melodic prog rock, these pieces range widely in mood and feeling, from sentimental moments to harder rock and quite a few 'weird' moments thrown in to keep a listener engaged, such as a circus music interlude. Truth be told, some of these elements are very well done, particularly Gordon's work with keyboards. The writing here is quite good, although there is always a feeling that even the most inspired bits of writing here are held back by what I consider to be a subpar production and rough performance. For example, the aptly titled 'Opening' features some nice melodies, but the instrumentation and keyboards sound roughly sampled and the vocals fall a little flat. On the other hand, later in the album (and particularly towards the latter half of it), Gordon's voice and performance generally improves, although there are still moments where the performance could have used polishing. Also- need I say- the two hour length certainly is an idea that was taken far out of hand; there are few albums that can remain effective at that length, and with the sheer amount of less powerful moments here, it would have been a much better decision to perhaps cut 'The Box' in half, as far as duration goes.

Although I have not yet heard Ian Gordon's band Drama, and do not find myself drawn to what's been done here, it is evident that Gordon has talent and vision as a musician. It is also clear from my angle that his music could use some more polish on it, because despite its strengths, the ultimate impression here is that of a vast grab bag; some things are good, other things not so much, and there is the sense that things would be that much more satisfying if the statement Gordon tries to make here would be condensed, if even just a little bit.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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