TARKUS Magazine (Norway) no. 37, June 2006
A double CD with music from the group's three albums "Ed Macan's Hermetic Science" (1997), "Prophesies" (1999) and "En Route" (2001). Five tracks from the 1997-album show a very original instrumentation (vibes, bass and drums + a bit of piano), and I am really impressed by what accomplish with these instruments. The music is vigorous and creative, and - not least - extremely accessible. Imagine ELP where Emerson's organ and synths have been replaced by vibes. True enough, a couple of tracks have sitar and lyre added recently in connection with this re-issue, not an entirely successful choice. However, seldom has the expression "less is more" been more appropriate.
"Prophesies" is much in the same vein, even if a few additional instruments have been introduced (string synth , organ, recorder ). It is still extremely minimalistic , but I feel that the concept is dragged out a bit now and then, for example in the seven minute "Hope Against Hope", which is performed alternatively on recorder and string synth . plus bass guitar and cymbals. But as a whole, this record (which is represented by seven of the nine tracks) is both challenging and rewarding. Chamber- prog in the right sense of the word.
The tragic "En Route", on the other hand, has been included in its entirety, Flat , cheesy, ugly and tiresome synth sounds have replaced bouncy vibraphone. (ARP String Ensemble is definitely not a pleasant sounding instrument!). They open with the funfair-version of Gustav Holst's "Mars" and immediately belly flop. Even a re-mastering can not save this. The compositions aren't that bad, but the irritation over the sonic shortcomings overshadows most of the compositional values anyway. "En Route" is an attempt to do 70's progressive rock the "Hermetic Science-way".
Nevertheless, this retrospective issue of almost the complete Hermetic Science production has more positive than negative sides (and, yes, even "En Route" has its moments, for example the lovely part half way through "Against The Grain Part One", and the title track, which concludes the whole collection, sort of saves the band's honour and makes us sit back with a positive feeling when it all ends.
Hermetic Science was a band with a personal and honest approach to progressive rock, and at their best they produced excellent music. Consequently, I don't hesitate recommending these CDs to anyone who have not yet made their acquaintance. Now's the time, definitely.