MUSIC IN BELGIUM (Review Posted August 16, 2008)

Hermetic Science • These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins

Hermetic Science is a Californian group consisting of

The presentations made, on to the album.  It is the group’s fourth album (no, I won’t repeat its title for a second time, too long!!!).  We begin at once, although it is not customary, with the cover:  the illustration is by Paul Whitehead, the guy who painted the covers of Trespass, Nursery Cryme, and Foxtrot of Genesis, of H to He and Pawn Hearts of Van der Graaf Generator, and Fool’s Mate of Peter Hammill, on which he plays the drums.

I will not go any further.  The comparison to Genesis stops there! We are very far from the neo-progressive groups that recast for us a five hundredth version of Selling England by the Pound of the neo-Genesis, indeed of the neo-Marillion variety.  We are a lot closer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the instrumental passages of Yes, or the perpetual musical explorations of a Robert Fripp.

It’s needless to say that I love this album!  I have cited to you the influences evident in listening, and in taking account of the writings of monsieur Macan, but candidly, one is far from plagiarism, the inspiration is there, and the creativity also!!!

The music will be classed in the category of progressive rock, a genre which has its adepts, but which irritates the greater part of the critics! Ed Macan pays no heed to this!  And he has good reason!  But he is able to also easily draw on jazz-rock and classical, so great is the virtuosity and imagination of the musicians.

We speak at first of the author:  Ed Macan, excellent not only with the pen, but piano virtuoso, listen to “De Profundis” (yes, the title stops there, we proceed!).  Or again the short, but superb “Melancholia I,” but also the . . . vibraphone!!! (here one finds true originality, the Lionel Hampton version of prog!!), in “Triptych,” or “Melancholia II,” I don’t know the discography of ELP sufficiently in order to proclaim the originality of Hermetic Science, but I have never heard anything like it!!!

The other tracks navigate between prog, classical, and jazz.  Listen to it, you will form your own opinion.  We speak however of the other musicians, the rhythm section.  There we have a true subject of comparison, and of stature!!!  The bass playing is at once energetic and refined, the drummer plays with an impressive virtuosity of polyrhythm, or of syncopation, recalling, without copying, so different is the music, the duo of Chris Squire and Bill Bruford of Yes’s grand epoch.  One can hardly support a better comparison!

In sum, all fans of progressive rock of even slight originality should plunge into this album!  A rare pearl!

Laurent             ****

Original review (In French):