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Ian Eccles-Smith - Apsilene

Ian Eccles-Smith - ApsileneIan Eccles-Smith is a UK based musician who has written film scores and various instrumental works.  Ian’s classical background has enabled him to ‘straddle’ different music genres and this, his latest work, developed with the assistance of David Toop and Paul Schütze, is an good example. His opening gambit – “Without meaning to, I seem to have created music that has, at its core, a prog rock sensibility and approach!” – indicates that he composes without tying himself down to a particular genre and thus we approached Apsilene with an eagerness akin to opening Pandora’s box albeit with less trepidation.

The music is complex but on first listen, the effect it had on me was, well, strange.  It is almost as if I was hearing, no, seeing a canvass unravelling to slowly reveal a soothing array of colours applied with careful and alluring brushstrokes resulting in a sort of dreamscape.  Somehow, the music took over my biorhythms leaving me pleasantly chilled out. 

There are a number of elements touched on but nothing that can be solely or directly attributed to one particular band or style.  The album opens with a piece that starts with that guitar sound that predominates throughout Pink Floyd’s Meddle but the percussion is more like Gong, intricate, complex, a little jazzy.  Meanwhile, the keyboards in the background could be Keith Emerson. Am I describing Porcupine Tree?  No I’m not, but there are some similarities.  The third track almost enters Steve Hackett Bay Of Kings territory, with a bit of reverse tape loop ala Voyage of The Acolyte/Please Don’t Touch although the rhythm that washes over the piece gives it a different flavour.

You may have heard of The Big Chill, an organisation that stages events all over.  Pete Lawrence, a DJ and musician who is integral to The Big Chill, mixed some tapes for a mutual friend a few years ago.  I expected to hear some mindless thump, thump, thump type music (as many DJ mixes are), yet Pete’s mixes were original and inspired works.  I’ve no idea how he went about it but the end result was amazing and not a million miles away from the feel of Apsilene.

Although I have implied that the music is the sort to chill to, it is not without a darker and more frenetic side.  It moves in and out of different ‘phases’ as the mood takes it.  And a theme heard on the first track crops up again throughout the album, which I prefer to look on as one big 62-minute track than seven separate tracks.

Apsilene is like an addictive hypnotic drug – you just want to keep coming back to it.  Why not check it out as it is available for download from Ian’s website (link below) for absolutely no charge whatsoever (surely that can’t last?) along with other compositions which, when I have a free moment, I will definitely be downloading.  If you do, see if you can hear something that sounds similar to the theme to Edward Woodward’s The Equalizer, or is that just me?

Jem Jedrzejewski

Ian Eccles-Smith


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