Tarkus (Norway) no. 47 (December 2008), pp. 20-21
Hermetic Science hasn’t always been treated nicely in our columns. The group’s leader, composer and author Ed Macan, has not only written ELP’s biography, he has also been inspired musically by ELP through more than ten years and four previous albums. We know only too well what ELP-inspiration can do to musicians (we need only mention Par Lindh Project). Hermetic Science has definitely understood what it’s about, but have often messed it up for themselves through the use of unbelievably ugly keyboard patches.
Enough of that now. Hermetic Science still carry clear influences of ELP, perhaps more so now than ever before, but this time they have finally managed to bring this over with credibility—and sound and arrangement-wise, in an almost a perfect way. HS is, as ELP, a trio of bass, drums, and keyboards. There are no pounding organs or five-feet high modular synths (fortunately neither is there an ARP string ensemble, which managed to ruin their album En Route); instead we have piano, mallet percussion, tasteful synth use, and yes, a little organ here and there, used with care. Alongside Macan we find bassist/guitarist Jason Hoopes and drummer Angelique Curry.
They open fresh and fine with “De Profundis,” a magnificent composition in which Macan’s piano is in the driver’s seat, but also where his two fellow musicians immediately get to show themselves. We hear the inspiration of ELP in composition, harmonization, ingenuity, and not least in the continuation of classical expression. HS transforms this into an intimate chamber prog that is unobtrusive, but which has great musical register. During the track’s ten minute duration, the group pulls us from one great theme to the next in a composition in which every note has a meaning. In “Voyages,” they probably teeter a bit closer to the bombastic, but they never trip over the edge. It is always tight, concise, and meaningful. In “Triptych,” Macan picks up mallet percussion and shows what a master he is on such instruments. In the final track, “The Second Coming,” they try to create a larger sound through more pervasive use of synths and organ, but the result is never sound at the expense of music.
This album is not meant for those who like to get blown over by pure sound orgies, but rather a real find for those who prefer to listen to harmonic subtleties and intelligent musical interaction. We have never doubted Macan’s musical talent, but not until now does it seem that all the pieces of the musical puzzle have finally fallen into place. [Sven Eriksen]