MARGEN (Spain) no. 19/20 (Spring 2000), p.


This is the second release of Ed Macan, the American composer who elevated the morale of progressive music aficionados with his first discographic effort and who now repeats the experiment.  That which first of all calls attention to Ed Macan is that musically he is an interpreter of progressive rock who likes to disguise himself as a contemporary composer, given his fondness for the mallet instruments (marimba and vibraphone) and analog keyboards, and above all for his moving away from the conventional currents implanted in progressive.  Capable of converting a piece like Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder” into a creation dominated by an indisputable aroma of atmospheric jazz, Ed Macan and his project Hermetic Science create music which transcends the progressive rock genre such as it has been defined over the course of the years.  In his head the influence of classic progressive cohabitates equally with the most forward-looking conception of chamber rock and the minimalism of [Steve] Reich, and the solution to such puzzles takes form in pieces that are complex yet structurally clear.  You don’t encounter here the powerful sonorities of Univers Zero or the timbral variations of ELP, but certainly all of their harmonic potential.  The central piece of the album is “Prophesies,” a composition of 42 minutes in six movements that possesses all the skill of the bands cited above (listen to “Leviathan and Behemoth,” the album’s major track) and some others too, like the familiarity with the sound diagrammed by Fonya in “Hope Against Hope,” second part of the suite.  Don’t allow to pass unnoticed either a certain liking for improvisation or a reliance on sudden surprises, which are purely Zappa-like conceptions of structuring the pieces.  All this and much more shows us the way of a third stream in the terrain of new music, which creates a context of familiar influences and intermingles them.  Returning to that which we say is most important, we can define Ed Macan as a contemporary composer working in progressive rock, or vice-versa.  Completing the staff is Andy Durham (bass), Nate Perry (bass), and Matt McClimon (drums).  As a “bonus track” we are offered an 18:48 version of ELP’s Tarkus for solo piano.  Recommended.

Rafa Dorado