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Ian Eccles-Smith : Apsilene
(independent release - 2003)
Category : criminally overlooked
4,33 stars

I stumbled across this artist while browsing a website dedicated to Progressive music. It said there that his songs were present on his site as free downloads. So, thinking that I would only have lost a bit of time if his music turned out to be uninteresting, I went over there and downloaded the completely intrumental Apsilene album, his most recent recording featured there (already dating back to 2003).

Now, I have the habit of immediately rating anything I listen to. Most albums I listen to have one, maybe two songs, that earn a 4 or 5 star rating. But to my surprise, after having listened to every track of this album, I was left with nothing but 4 and 5 star ratings. I have a name for this kind of album. It's called a masterpiece.

But now let me get down to explaining what makes Apsilene such an appealing album to me. First of all, being a fan of Progrock bands such as Ozric Tentacles and Steve Hillage (among many others), I was pleased to hear that the atmosphere and sound of Ian-Eccles-Smith's music is like a slightly psychedelic prog mix of the slower tracks of Ozric Tentacles (in part thanks to the drum patterns) with some classic progrock (à la 'Caravan' and the likes) and a dash of Steve Hillage thrown in. I'm talking about the mood and the sound here, as I wouldn't catalogue Ian as a real Prog Rock artist. For this his music is generally too soft and more introspective. It also comes across too much as "not constructed" (but without becoming minimalistic). It's organically flowing from one theme into another, giving you the feeling of gently floating down a bendy stream while an ever changing landscape passes by with delicate colourful orchids and inhabited by slightly bizarre but above all fascinating creatures. Sounds new agey, doesn't it? That's the odd thing. While Apsilene crosses over into Ambient territory more than once, it has nothing of the kitch and tasteless aspects sometimes associated with the Ambient genre (stuff like Enya or Enigma is indeed quite unbearable to me).

But in the end, all comparisons aside, there's only one word that accurately describes the music on Apsilene. That word is quite simply "beautiful". Indeed, these are nothing more (or less) than beautiful and fascinating compositions, perfectly performed by a great instrumentalist and composer.

The Apsilene download page:

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