DURP (Internet), December 1999
(See http://www.durp.com/reviews/h/hermeticscien/prophesis.htm for German-language review)
Hermetic Science was founded in late 1995 and is first and foremost the baby of Ed Macan. This band of the music educator, who has also written a book about progressive rock and at the moment is working on a biography of ELP, released their debut in 1997 and now puts forth their second album.
Prog rock without vocals and without guitar is certainly already a more cultish affair, and naturally suggests to one that the keyboards will be the dominant instrument, but in this case one would be mistaken. Ed Macan has set himself an unusual goal, to wit to establish vibraphone and marimba as lead instruments in a prog context—and sets about this without compromise. The motto that good music remains good music, irregardless of the instruments used, is especially demonstrated with “Jacob’s Ladder,” a cover of a song by Rush, while “Intrigue in the House of Panorama” takes on the essence of sixties spy movie soundtracks. The centerpiece of the album is the 41-minute suite “Prophesies,” divided into six movements, during which more conventional keyboard instruments such as Hammond organ and Steinway grand piano emerge prominently on several occasions. One can surely name traditional prog as the musical basis of this composition, complimented with jazz, classical, and minimalist elements, but all placed in a wholly unconventional setting. As a bonus track he gives us yet another cover, a live version of ELP’s Tarkus suite, arranged solely for piano.
Hermetic Science thus dare to be unusual among the unusual. Imagine for yourselves how ELP or Ars Nova would sound, if instead of keys a vibraphone was used. If this thought pleases, then don’t let this CD slip by.