Update:  October 2015

January 2016 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Hermetic Science, and March 2016, the twentieth anniversary of the band’s first studio recordings.  During the summer of 2015, for the first time in several years I found myself revisiting the back catalog of Hermetic Science.  My reaction:  while there are obviously things I would do differently, I find I can still stand by both the underlying concept of the project, and the music that it generated during the eleven years it actively recorded, from 1996 to 2007.  Just three observations:

  1. Nobody—and I mean nobody—has used the vibes and the marimba in a popular music context, or really, in any context, the way they are used in Hermetic Science.
  2. Hermetic Science was inspired by the medieval guild ideal of a master craftsman working with apprentices and bringing them to journeyman status, and served as a forum for college music majors to receive academic credit for participating in the entire process of creating and releasing an album, from initial rehearsal to the final post-production processes.  In the mid 1990s, this concept was virtually unknown in post-secondary music education.  It was only between 2000 and 2010, and only in the large post-secondary music programs with commercial music degrees, that this kind of opportunity finally started to become common.  We pulled it off in a tiny community college in rural northwestern California some ten to fifteen years ahead of the curve, with absolutely no encouragement and absolutely no financial support, all the while producing some of the most innovative progressive music of the era.
  3. Nine years ago, I stated that the final three tracks of En Route bear comparison with any of the best prog released in the five year span 1996-2001.  I still stand by that assessment, and further consider “De Profundis,” “Aion,” and “The Second Coming” from These Fragments to be at least the equal of the three closing tracks of En Route.  While I hear the weaknesses of some of what I would call the “second line” H.S. back catalog more clearly now than I did ten years ago, I believe on the whole the Hermetic Science canon has aged well, and much of it sounds as fresh as ever—as if it could have been recorded last week just as easily as 1996 or 1997 or 1998 or 1999 or 2000 or 2001 or 2006 or 2007. 

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the band’s founding, I am pleased to post, for the first time ever, video footage of the original Hermetic Science lineup—myself (vibes), Don Sweeney (bass), and Michael Morris (drums)—recorded April 19, 1996, as we perform “Fire Over Thule” (the first time a live performance of this early H.S. classic has ever been available) and “Trisagion.”  Please click the Concert Footage link on the main page to enjoy this high-quality footage.

As some of you may have noticed, the twenty tracks of Crash Course: A Hermetic Science Primer, which comprise remixed and re-mastered versions of all the original tracks from the three Hermetic Science studio albums of 1997-2001, became unavailable for digital download during the summer of 2014.  Reap and Sow, the digital distributor who had partnered with us in 2007, made the decision to drop us as part of an effort to substantially downsize their stable of artists.  I should add, in passing, that Reap and Sow told us at the time that an integral part of severing the relationship would involve them paying us all back royalties we were owed, which I was happy to hear, since they had not made a royalties payment to us since 2012.  However, no payment has ever been forthcoming.  Nonetheless, we secured a new digital distributor during the summer of 2015, and I’m happy to say that the tracks of Crash Course are once again available for digital download.  Also, the final remaining physical stock of our second album, Prophesies (originally released in 1999) sold out over the summer of 2014, the second Hermetic Science album (joining the eponymous debut album of 1997) to go out of print.  At this point, since sonically superior versions of these tracks are available on Crash Course, there is no plan to re-release these albums at this time.

Just one non-H.S. item this update.  I had hoped to go back into the studio to record more classical piano music during the summers of 2014 or 2015, but it simply didn’t work out.  However, I am still planning to record the works in question, hopefully in summer 2016.  These works include Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (complete), Mozart’s Sonata no. 5 in G major, K. 283 (complete), Cyril Scott’s Lotus-Land and Egypt:  An Album of Five Pieces (complete), and Orlando Gibbons’ Fantasia of Four Parts.  In the meantime, we post something we hope will surprise and delight—a live recording of my transcription for solo piano of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Tarkus suite, recorded in Whittier, California in April 1992.  This recording was included as a bonus track on Hermetic Science’s second album, Prophesies, in 1999, but now that Prophesies has sold out and there are no plans to re-release it in the foreseeable future, this seems a good time to make the recording available.  Enjoy!

Ed Macan
Eureka, California
October 2015