PROGRESSION no. 26 (Winter/Spring 1998), p. 65

Ed Macan’s Hermetic Science (CD, 52:41); Magnetic Oblivion

The novel appeal of this album lies first and foremost in the instrumentation–vibes/marimba, bass, drums, and occasional piano. Stylistically, it’s a melting pot of 70s prog-rock, chamber music, minimalist jazz, Arabic and North Indian influences, and Renaissance church music.

Holding court throughout this eclectic brew is mallet percussionist Ed Macan, known to prog aficionados as author of last year’s Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Macan is a deft player, with a knack for convincingly melding melody and dissonance. His use of vibes in place of electric guitar or electronic keyboards might seem a bit odd, but it’s so unique as to be nothing short of intriguing.

Interesting touches include a medley of Curved Air’s "Cheetah" and Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s "Infinite Space" (from Tarkus). Elsewhere, the inherently menacing "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, gains a whole new ambience under Macan’s vibes/marimba/piano treatment.

If you’re looking for something new and entirely different–yup, that means "progressive"–check this out.

John Collinge