PROGRESSION ( USA ) no. 50 (Summer/Fall 2006), p. 140

 

Sound:   * * *

Composition:   * * * ½

Musicianship:   * * *

Performance:   * * * ½

Total rating:   13

Hermetic Science is Ed Macan's arcane mission to create symphonic progressive rock with instrumentation that wasn't made for it.   Well, at least initially . . .

Macan, a California-based college professor also known for his scholarly tomes on prog ( Rocking the Classics:   English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture ), now brings us this two-CD set containing 20 tracks drawn from his group's three discs issued in 1997 ( Hermetic Science ), '99 ( Prophesies ), and 2001 ( En Route ).   The set includes all 19 Hermetic Science originals plus a rendition of Holst's “Mars, the Bringer of War.”   All have been remixed and re-mastered, with a few newly recorded bits added here and there.

Subtitled A Hermetic Science Primer , Crash Course brings us music heavily influenced by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, played on vibes, bass and drums in the early recordings.   Various keyboards, bass and sitar appear on the later tracks, fleshing out what initially is a very sparse sound, though Macan's mallet work remains present throughout.

Much of the Hermetic Science repertoire has an intimate chamber music feel; hence, the odd contrast between bombastic ELP-style compositions and the smaller, lighter sound.   But chances are you've never heard anything quite like this, which makes it worth investigating on uniqueness alone.                        John Collinge