PROGRESSION no. 33 (U.S.A.), Fall/Winter 1999-2000, pp. 162-63
Prophesies comes at the listener on cat’s paws—don’t expect the lion’s roar of the “typical” progressive rock band (if there is such an animal). The music is largely based around Ed Macan’s vibes and marimba, which impose a softer dynamic level than we’re used to hearing in this genre. This also is what provides much of its fascination.
There are four pieces here. “Jacob’s Ladder” is an effective re-working of the Rush classic, while “Intrigue in the House of Panorama” plays with spy movie music, including quotes from the James Bond signture theme, and much derring-do atmosphere. The title piece is an altogether satisfying six-movement, 41-minute suite, wherein Macan moves through his entire arsenal of instruments, with help from his core unit of Andy Durham on bass, and Matt McClimon on drums. Hammond organ, acoustic piano, Micromoog, ARP string ensemble, recorder, and mallet instruments are used to create a long-form, unified piece that is redolent of 1970s prog in all its glory.
The fourth, bonus track, is a 1992 live performance of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Tarkus, in its entirety—for solo grand piano. Macan’s 19-minute transcription—far from being disappointingly monochromatic compared to the original—lets us revel in the piece’s unique harmonies on a single, orchestral instrument. He interprets the piece faithfully, yet those familiar with the original will note how he fishes in its waters with his own bait and tackle. Highly enjoyable.
Prophesies is one of the most unique progressive releases of this year. Listeners who like to take chances on different approaches and new sounds are strongly encouraged to check this remarkable disc out.