Macan's Hermetic Science, Ed - Ed Macan's Hermetic Science

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Magentic Oblivion Records
Catalog Number: 1-MERM1-97
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:13:00

My whole understanding of what progressive rock is has been greatly helped by Edward Macan's book Rocking The Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Reading other reviews aside, I might never have discovered this particular release but for his book. And even then, but for a review in Progression, I might never have discovered that (the story in trying to track it down is too long to tell).

Ed Macan's Hermetic Science's particular brand of progressive is all instrumental, which isn't surprising, and in some ways, refreshing. In fact, that is the overall sense here - the album is refreshing. As mellow as it is - this is a far cry from prog metal and neo-prog - it isn't boring. Perhaps it's the instrumentation, but everything here is lively, bright, upbeat, energizing.

Appropriately enough, it is Macan's vibes that take the lead, giving EMHS a unique character. So, the "sounds like" comparisons are of no use here.

The first two tracks, Macan originals, are sterling examples of crystal clear compositions - in some ways sparse, in others very rich. "Fire Over Thule" is intriguing track - no mere background music, as you find yourself drawn in to see/hear where the path is headed. This particular piece is, as the liner notes state, inspired by Jane Smiley's novel The Greenlanders.

I'm not familiar with the book, but the fire indicated by the song is not a dark, raging thing, but a light and airy thing, perhaps symboling some great event, a holy event perhaps. In reverence of fire rather than in fear.

Three of the eight tracks here aren't Macan's - tracks 4 and 5 combine to form a medley of Curved Air's "Cheetah" and Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Infinite Space," Gustav Holst's "Mars, the Bringer of War" closes out the disk. Often, when one is "covering" a tune, they seek to emulate the orginal, maybe bringing in something new, but rarely new enough to justify the cover (case in point is Kansas' cover of "Eleanor Rigby").

That isn't the case here. In "Infinite Space," a track from ELP's 1971 release Tarkus, Macan has recast the track with marimba, bass, and drums resulting in a wholly orignial take on this track, making it his own, and yet there are echoes of Emerson's percussive keys in Macan's marimba.

Joining Macan are Andy Durham and Donald Sweeney on bass, Sweeney for most, and Joe Nagy and Michael Morris on drums and percussion, mainly Morris.

The music here is beautifully composed and played, relaxing even during the more uptempo sections. If you are into ambient or "Fourth World" music, you will find much to enjoy in Hermetic Science.

This is certainly one of the best releases to come out in the past couple of years - I look forward to more. You will do yourself a favor by tracking this release down.

Esau's Burden (5:12) / Fire Over Thule (9:26) / The Sungazer (11:09) / Cheetah (3:51) / Infinite Space (3:47) / Fanfare (For the House of Paranormal) (4:05) / Trisagion (8:12) / Mars, The Bringer of War (6:51)

Ed Macan - vibes, marimba, piano, assorted tuned percussion
Andy Durham - bass guitar (1, 6)
Donald Sweeney - bass guitar (2-5, 7-8)
Michael Morris - drums and percussion (2-5, 7-8)
Joe Nagy - drums and percussion (1, 6)

Ed Macan's Hermetic Science (1997)
Prophecies (1999)
En Route (2001)
Crash Course: A Hermetic Science Primer (2006)
These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: April 10th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 983
Language: english


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