TARKUS (Norway) no. 13 (June 2000), p. 34
Behind Hermetic Science stands multi-instrumentalist Edward Macan, and Prophesies is apparently a concept album based on Biblical prophesies.
The CD booklet carries Latin superscriptions, but the album is purely instrumental, and most of the music is composed by Macan himself. He is joined by three other musicians who appear on different tracks. The two opening tracks are separate works, and tracks three through eight go by the name of “Prophesies: A Suite In Six Movements.”
Since I have no knowledge of Latin, I shall not try any interpretations of the record’s message, but instead concentrate on the music itself.
Macan plays mainly different vibraphones and marimbas in addition to soprano recorder, Steinway grand piano, Hammond, ARP string ensemble and Micromoog. Bass and drums are handled by a rotating cast of musicians.
If you like vibes, this is definitely the record for you, because even though recorder and acoustic piano are often featured, the vibes in my opinion are a bit too predominant, especially in the many parts where the music almost takes on an “elevator and airport music” feeling, in other words a bit too sweet and soft without a lot of tension. However, the music is full of variation and ideas spanning from short moments of marimba jazz to quirky and very dynamic prog tendencies.
But even if I could have wished for more of one thing and less of another, Macan must be given full credit for managing to produce a very different sound without following the footsteps of his many predecessors, and now and then he reaches great heights with parts or complete pieces which are not only different, but which work wonderfully. I would be very happy if future albums could be more varied, especially in the use of vibes and marimbas.
Now and then he falls into the mass grave of prog rock and runs frenetically around within a context, some of it recognizable from other sources, for example the piano solos wherein the spirit of Keith Emerson flows among the keys, but the gentleman handles his keyboard work with an impressive ability and he is never close to copying.
Speaking of Emerson and company, as a bonus track Macan has included a live recording from 1992 where he plays the complete 20 minute “Tarkus” on Steinway grand piano. I’m not sure if this is quite for me (the adaptation, that is), but the sheer proficiency of Macan makes the track a joy to hear. A must for ELP fans, I would believe.
Macan is also the author of the book Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture as well as the forthcoming Emerson, Lake and Palmer: The Band And Their Music.”
Simen Viig Ostensen