METAMUSICA (Brazil), July 1998, p. 41

Ed Macan’s Hermetic Science: Hermetic Science

Magnetic Oblivion Records 1-MERM-97 52:37

Ed Macan is a professor of music who carries out his activities in the California Community College system. Passionate about progressive music, he resolved to create a band which could develop his theories relating to the style. As far as that goes, not a problem: a multi-instrumentalist of very high abilities and having extensive knowledge of the history of progressive rock, for him it would not be very difficult to regurgitate sonorities from 70s prog, his area of specialization. But he seeks something more complex. First: he wants to avoid the classic keyboard/guitar/bass/drums lineup. Second: he chooses nothing less than vibraphone and marimba (varieties of the xylophone) as his primary instruments, which he plays, together with piano. Third: his band consists of his students (who are responsible principally for bass, drumkit, and percussion). Fine; and the result of all that? Answer: fantastic!

Even though at the first moment our dear readers may think we are dealing with a work of the experimental vanguard here, in truth Ed Macan’s Hermetic Science is a CD that does not exclusively contemplate the issues allied to this conceit. Although references to Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, Gong (cited by Ed himself) and others are natural (principally to the Canterbury school, because of the jazz direction which one associates with the vibraphone), in truth the band doesn’t work within the styles that we are currently acquainted with: they create a new manner of treating pieces that can be constructed from ethnic/popular, symphonic, chamber, jazz, even "spatial" forms, and they give a new reading of works conceived from and manifesting through an "a as well as b" approach that the basic idea of evolution of progressive rock is more alive now than ever.

It is enough to listen to covers included on the disc to perceive that this is the case. "Mars, the Bringer of War," excerpted from the astrological suite The Planets (1918) by the Swedish-British Gustav Holst (1874-1934) presents a new vision that is very different from the three that we are acquainted with up to now, the orchestral original (with choir and organ) by Holst, the spatial/electronic arrangement by the Japanese Isao Tomita, and the symphonic prog version of Emerson, Lake and Powell; "Cheetah" by Curved Air (authored by Darryl Way) doesn’t recall the style of that 70s band; finally ELP’s "Infinite Space" shows what this piece would be like if Keith Emerson played marimba. Still, we can say that the high points of the album are the compositions by Macan, like the spatial-jazz-progressive "Fire Over Thule," the varied moods of the suite "The Sungazer," or the classical climate of "Fanfare for the House of Panorama." It is clear that this is not a CD for everyone; however, the person who one day was imagining a union Gentle Giant with the Modern Jazz Quartet is certain to adore it. Highly recommended for sophisticated auditors.

Marcos Cardozo de Oliveira