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IAN GORDON

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Ian Gordon biography
Composer and musician Ian GORDON is based in Bolton, UK, and will most commonly be found as the front man of UK act Drama when spending his time on the art of music. But as many creative musicians over the years, the band environment doesn't quite manage to fulfil his creative needs, and in 2011 this lead to the release of The Box. Digitally available at this point, with a possible CD edition to come at a later stage. His intent with this and possible future productions: To explore the darker side of human nature, seeking to expose the truths we hide from ourselves.

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IAN GORDON discography


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IAN GORDON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.59 | 15 ratings
The Box
2011
3.43 | 12 ratings
Terminally Brave
2011
4.10 | 11 ratings
The Horror Show
2013
3.95 | 11 ratings
Retrobution
2013
3.00 | 6 ratings
Ark
2014

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IAN GORDON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Terminally Brave by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.43 | 12 ratings

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Terminally Brave
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Less than 6 months after the release of ''The box'', Ian Gordon returns with a second album, ''Terminally brave'', released in October on his bandcamp page.This appears to be another concept work by the English fellow, dealing with the sneaky goverment organisations and its attacking consequences to the life of people.As expected, Gordon has recorded all vocal and instrumental parts himself and the only outside contribution comes from a few sound effects he used from the site www.freesound.org.

Gordon's style appears to take a heavier dimension in this album, evoking some DREAM THEATER stylings, without ever forgetting the main inspiration of his compositions, which is Classic Progressive Rock.At this point it seems that the more material he writes, the best the result is.''Terminally brave'' sounds just an inch better, more consistent and more memorable than his debut, delivering modern Progressive Rock of high quality, having done an excellent job on the recording quality and mix of the album.But music comes first and ''Terminally brave'' is a pretty interesting album with many cool ideas and a refreshing aura.Gordon's music ranges from COSMOGRAF-like Neo Prog to Classical-influenced, cinematic soundscapes and from SPOCK'S BEARD-like Symphonic Prog to powerful Heavy Prog, displaying complexity and melody in equal doses.The atmosphere is pompous, dramatic and often haunting, reflecting propably on the needs of the concept.The guys seems to be talented on combining different elements in the same track, as a result a convincing mix of laid-back and dynamic textures is constantly present on his pieces.I am reminded of a more heavy version of Sky Architect's CHRIS listening to this album.Lots of flashy synthesizers, punchy riffs, energetic rhythms and impressive tempo changes shift endlessly to reward the listener with music, that can be romantic and sinister at the same time.

First work was really nice, this is even better.Great songwriting, diverse atmospheres and a strong, proggy content, supported by decent vocals.Strongly recommended to say the least...3.5 stars.

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 Terminally Brave by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.43 | 12 ratings

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Terminally Brave
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by sukmytoe

4 stars Another album by multi-instrumentalist Ian Gordon, an artist who's music I've come to enjoy a great deal. I cannot understand how this musician remains almost invisible to the music and to the "prog" world as of the four albums that I have of his none have disappointed me - in fact quite the opposite applies. At first when I started my "Ian Gordon" adventure it was with apprehension as I usually am not overly fond of single man multi - instrumentalist works. What drew me to Ian's music was the "neo-prog" tag here on PA and I was curious. Personally I'm glad that I was curious enough to take a peek because what I found is a wealth of musical ideas, a more than competent musician, a voice that has more than a striking resemblance to that of David Bowie (imagine Bowie doing neo-prog) and music full of melody and adventure.

I can't put a tag on the music - all I can say in regard to it is again, imagine David Bowie in progressive territory. It is very keyboard orientated and it is highly melodic. The drumming and guitar work is more than accomplished. The tracks are mainly multi nuanced and go through varieties of moods and melodies. This is a concept work encompassing in Ian Gordon's own words - "The world is at war. People live in fear, afraid of shadowy government organisations and their insidious agendas. As the cost of living soars, rebel factions arise, eager to regain control of the broken society. Little do they know, an agenda of epic proportions is about to be unveiled..."

This is an album that you have to listen to in its entirety for it to hit home. You can't sample bits and pieces in order to make a judgement call. Four stars from me.

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 The Box by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 15 ratings

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The Box
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by sukmytoe

4 stars If you're going to play all of the instruments on an album barring for assistance from others on a very few tracks then you had better be a damn good song writer to attract my attention because I doubt that you are going to be a master of all of the instruments that you play. Further than that if you are going to use artificial drums to any extent then it is very rare that I'm going to listen to your music.

I got hold of this album due to the fact that the artist is categorised as neo-prog here and I have a thing for neo-prog. With this album it was kind of a "curiosity didn't kill the cat" experience. I don't love the album but I don't dislike it either and part of the reason for that is that this work is a treasure chest of musical ideas and there are many moments that I love herein. One of the attractions for me with this is Ian Gordon's voice which is very similar to that of David Bowie. I love theatrics and drama in music and this has a lot of those elements in spades. The keyboard and lead guitar work are very well done.

Quoted from the artist himself as I couldn't say it better - "I grew up in a small town in Northern England. There I discovered the very things that would inspire me to compose "The Box", from the eerie woods and stories of 'lost souls', to the house I grew up in and the clutter that gave it character. My first musical influences were those who weren't afraid to tell stories; Genesis, Rush and Iron Maiden amongst others. The progressive influence introduced me to the idea of experimentation, and much of the material that makes up "The Box" is a result of that experimentation. Conceptually, the idea of one becoming 'lost' in some distant land was the catalyst for the story; in which a process of rediscovery would have to be undertaken in order for one to remember who they truly were. Being a fan of the surreal and the macabre, this concept evolved into something much more elaborate. Conceived in the winter of 1999, a full 10 years passed before "The Box" was finally recorded. It has been a labour of love, and I'm proud to share it with the world at last"

I do find that in places the album is disjointed and that sometimes it is a patchwork of musical ideas however for the wealth of musical ideas throughout this and for the many moments of pure musical magic I have to give it major credit. There are many who believe that albums should be cut down in size in order to make them more coherent in what they are trying to achieve however I don't necessarily agree with that at all - there is two hours of music here and if I can find an hours worth of magic in such an album then I'm totally satisfied - I found way more than hours worth of pleasure here. It is a massive work especially considering the fact that it is from an artist relatively new to the musical field. If you loved Gabriel era Genesis then don't hesitate trying this on. A solid four stars from me for taking me on a musical journey.

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 Retrobution by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.95 | 11 ratings

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Retrobution
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by sukmytoe

4 stars Ian Gordon, is in essence one of those solo, multi - instrumentalist artists that I look at very suspiciously when I contemplate getting hold of their albums. I usually feel that multi - instrumentalists can be good with the various instruments that they use but master of none of them. The song-writing and structure of the music has to be very good to attract me relating to artists of this type. I was impressed with two of the previous albums that I got hold of earlier ("The Box" and "Terminally Brave") although I haven't reviewed them as yet here.

"Faith" - Starts off with nice piano strains and fleshes out into an interesting melody driven piece of pop / rock with a melancholy feel. As with the previous albums that I have I'm struck by how much like David Bowie this artist sounds vocally.

"Aerial" - Synthesized keyboard opening leads into an interesting light pop / rock track that is catchy and bubbly. Not special but a very pleasant listen.

"Zanzibar" - Short reggae beat driven track. Pop / Rock. Just what you would expect a track called "Zanzibar" to sound like.

"Basic" - Starts of gently in a smoky melancholy sounding way and stays with that mood. Still very much pop / rock in the David Bowie and also perhaps Bryan Ferry camp.

"Frames" - Soft piano track. I do love the sound of the piano in music. A moody piece.

"Dixi" - Heavy start to the track that is solidly in the metal camp before it mellows out into a driving rock track. Not what I expected at all from a track with the name "Dixi".

"Frankincense" - Eerie sound to start with - thus far the most progressive track on the album - solid prog rock. Very nice use of the lead guitar just past the halfway mark. In places weird and eclectic.

"No Smoke Without Fire" - Kind of rock cha-cha sound to start with. At about the third way mark it enters 10CC musical turf. Nice lead guitar use. Ends as it started. Interesting listen.

"Long Live The New Flesh" - Hard rock start that settles down into a driving number. Definitely prog as were the previous two tracks. Plenty of time and mood changes - quirky in parts.

"I'm Not Your Lover" - Smoky feel, very emotive. I really like this short track.

"Stars Over Lebanon" - Soft keyboard / vocal emotive start. If I was in any doubt about this album the previous track and this one sorted my mind out. I really like it. Beautifully played lead guitar in this one.

"The Substitute" - Keeps the mood of the previous two tracks.

I've searched for Ian Gordon on the web and I'm kind of shocked at the lack of content relating to him. It's about time that the world wakes up and listens to this artist. The early tracks on the album are more pop rock than prog rock but they are interesting and catchy. I can't help but make comparison between Ian Gordon here and David Bowie in that the voice and the vocals lead one in that direction but I can almost say that David Bowie would wish that he wrote a lot of this material. One has to listen to the entire album to get it - it would be too easy to dismiss it only listening to the first couple of tracks. Up until the halfway mark through the album I was contemplating an easy 3 star rating but after the close of this work a solid 4 stars it is for me and it remains that way through further listens - the more I listen the more I get it.

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 The Horror Show by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.10 | 11 ratings

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The Horror Show
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Ian Gordon, from Bolton, in the UK is a multi-instrumentalist singer and composer, who have been very productive since the release of the double CD "The Box" in 2011. In this release, Ian was showing a lot of potential as a songwriter and musician with well-crafted songs that can be developed in long instrumental breaks. The voice tone is very close to David Bowie, which is a good thing and makes the music even more enjoyable. Here we are, a few years later, with another concept-double CD "Horror Show" with 2 guest musicians, including Rob Heyes (guitars and vocals). The CD starts with no less than 3 epics that run through 20 minutes duration! The music of Ian is a Neo-Prog that is delivering some delightful symphonic passages, dark atmosphere with a good use of retro-Prog sounds, like mellotron and Taurus bass pedals. The music is at times largely dominated by a wall of keyboards, especially in the first part of the CD, but the guitars and bass have their share of space, because the songs are breaking many times into some heavy and smoother turnaround.

The vocals are pretty busy, and it's the first time that I can say that I really enjoy that much the production and sounds of the music here. Every instruments and the voice is coming out clear with a high level of quality in each compositions, despite the 2 hours marathon. It should be notice that the second part of the material here (tracks 4 to 10) take us back to 10 years of work, and shows a different kind of songs than the first 3 epics. The guitars played a more dominant role and the keyboards take a step back. I really enjoy the narration in the music, because the purpose was to tell a story behind the music. And the artist has succeeded to illustrate that story with dark atmosphere, some violent and heavy breaks that show influences of Spock's Beard, The Watch and Simon Says. But all this tempered with some calm and more joyful parts, acoustics typical of big epic songs that get you through many moods.

So with this long 2 hours of material, the listener is taking on a journey where he goes from sentimental moments, to harder rock, weird moments with frightening themes. Is it the breakthrough of Ian Gordon in the world of Progressive Rock or is he continues to work on the shadows of the most popular bands? If some listeners had some doubts about the talents of this musician, this CD should clear those out for good.

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 The Box by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 15 ratings

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The Box
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars UK multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and frontman of rock band Drama.Ian grew up in the small town of Westhoughton,but relocated in Bolton, where, influenced by bands like GENESIS and RUSH, he started working on his ambitious first solo output.It took him a decade to eventually give the album life by recording it and selling it as a digital download on bandcamp.com in 2011.''The box'' is a concept album about human anxities,clocking at over two hours.

With Ian only handling all instruments and voices,the work presents an already mature musician with a flexible sound,but always in progressive rock grounds, and tracks torn between grandiose and challenging compositions and more somber and mellow pieces.The overall sound is close to the likes of bands like SPOCK'S BEARD, TRANSATLANTIC, SENSE and BRIGHTEYE BRISON, an impressive mix of Retro-Prog,Neo Prog and Symphonic Rock with a modern flavor.All cuts are surprisingly strong with some nice instrumental parts and heavy lyrical moments,where Ian prooves to be an excellent singer as well.The guitar parts are also good with both heavy and smooth passages and his keyboard work includes symphonic organs,orchestral synths and even some virtuosic solos from time to time.More impressively Ian managed to create a very tight release with no particular drawbacks and a good balance between vocal- and instrumental moments.

While not being very original or groundbreaking,''The box'' shows a young musician ready to step on the progressive stage with a great potential and mature enough to present a very long album after some really hard work.Recommended to all fans of modern progressive rock with occasional vintage references.

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 The Box by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 15 ratings

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The Box
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by Wytze

5 stars A few months ago my attention was drawn by the album ' the box ' from Ian Gordon. Due to the simplicity of the cover, which is only a small white drawn box on a completely black background, I was curious. I had no expectations about the content and carefully decided to open 'the box' and discover what was in it. After less more then two hours I sat totally stunned at the couch. Guys, what an album is this! I barely realized what had happend to me in those 2 hours, but it was fantastic, yes there was no doubt about it. I decided to open 'the box' again. Yes it was not an illusion. Ian Gordon has delivered an album of a rare high level. ' The box ' tells us the story of a lonely boy -Jason- who starts to make a trip after the death of his father. The journey leads him along unknown cities and other places where he never has been. Ian Gordon has transformed Jasons voyage into magical sounds so the listener can experience all adventures during the trip itself. After 8 times listening I tried to pick out the highlights of this album, but I failed. ' The box ' is just one big adventurous highlight. I dare to say that Ian Gordon has delivered a magnificent masterpiece with 'the box'. With a wink to the Genesis of the 1970s, Ian has managed to develope a unique style. 'The box' gives listeners the feeling of being in a spectaculaire rollercoaster. The box has been one of my all-time favorites and surely the best album I've discovered in 2011. Finally, I would like to give a warning to all progfans: after opening 'the box', the content grabs you by the throat and doesn't let you go for the next two hours! Beware...

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 The Box by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 15 ratings

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The Box
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by RJN

4 stars I have listened to The Box many times all the way through since I purchased it at Bandcamp, ( a great place by the way to hear bands that are not well known but still quite good). This is a fine effort from Ian Gordan, a long concept album about somebody Gordan calls Jason who seems to be trying to face his troubles and learn why he feels the way he feels. It is really quite a nice story, kind of reminds me of a story from a fantasy novel. The music is well played throughout, this is another of these one man band albums that are making their way more and more to today's music market, with modern technology these people can make their living room their studio, and the sound quality is really good on most of them that I have heard, I mean everybody seems to be doing it this way now, going from young talent like Ian Gordan all the way to established stars like Steve Hackett. I really like The Box, and can not wait to hear what comes next from this guy, it gives me hope for music when I see these younger people like Ian making quality prog. music, all is not lost out there. I rate this one at 4 1/2 stars, can't post it that way but that is how I rate it.

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 The Box by GORDON, IAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 15 ratings

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The Box
Ian Gordon Neo-Prog

Review by 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.

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