PROGRESSIVE NEWSLETTER (Germany), December 1999, p. 28
Already the self-titled debut (reviewed in PNL no. 20) of this trio led by Ed Macan (also the author of the book “Rocking the Classics,” discussed in PNL no. 22) carved out a niche for itself through its novel instrumental lineup, in which the vibraphone and marimba predominate. Prophesies is not just a mere continuation; to the contrary, a wider instrumentation, including piano, Hammond, and ARP string ensemble, is integrated, allowing a many-layered sound to emerge on the album. Again Macan is accompanied only by drums and bass, and the music is characterized by sparse arranging and few overdubs.
Also, the first album’s practice of cover versions is carried on. Here the covers stand at the beginning and end of the CD and accordingly frame the two original compositions. Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder” serves as the CD opener, and naturally lacks both the bombast and the guitar of the original, but nevertheless brings across the drama of the piece well enough. At the end of the CD is a live version of an over 18 minute piano arrangement of ELP’s “Tarkus.” To be sure this also is reduced to the essentials, but one recognizes again, that even without Emersonian extravagance this piece retains its full substance and craft.
The original pieces are the very short “Intrigue in the House of Panorama,” indebted to sixties spy film music, in stark contrast to the six-movement, forty one plus minute Prophesies suite. The music of Hermetic Science traverses the boundary line between classical and demanding rock; it works equally as contemporary classical or as classical rock. But precisely therein lies something of the problem with this unique disc. The sounds somehow get lost in indifference, melancholy, a trace of chilliness, thereby somehow becoming too earnest, as with many very classically-inspired works. But I generally have this problem with classical music, so perhaps this may simply be a problem only for me.
Prophesies leads progressive rock music once more back to the wellsprings of classical music and creates through its tone spectrum a whole new impression, which concentrates more on essentials. A beautiful, if not particularly simple album, which opens up new dimensions.
(VM 12, KS 12)