PROGRESSIVE NEWSLETTER (Germany) no. 20, May 1998, p. 18

Ed Macan’s Hermetic Science

52:41, Magnetic Oblivion Records, 1997

Ed Macan is a music educator at the College of the Redwoods in the northwestern part of the state of California. From this probably not entirely exhilarating role he has been moved by several objectives to form a band of his own. He wishes to awaken appreciation and enthusiasm amongst young people for progressive rock, therefore other than himself all members of his band are college students. Furthermore, he has no patience with the inspirationless clones of the 70s bands, with their stereotypical lineups (keyboards, bass, guitar, drums) that one is all too often compelled to listen to.

So said, so done, his trio therefore pursues an entirely different approach to playing instrumental progressive rock that lends it a distinctly jazz as well as chamber music and sometimes Zappaesque streak; one hears echoes of bands like Univers Zero or Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. The clearly fundamental exception is however the instrumentation, with vibraphone or marimba as lead melodic instrument, as well as bass and drums. Instead of the typical bombast there is rather now a floating sound, which lends to the CD a relaxed impression. True music, which compels attentive listening.

Besides five original compositions there are three newly-interpreted cover versions, Curved Air’s "Cheetah," ELP’s "Infinite Space," and Gustav Holst’s "Mars, the Bringer of War." Especially with the latter title, the deficiency of the power trio format is evident. Despite excellent performances by the instrumentalists, the sound lacks sufficient contrasts in dynamics or tone-color due to the one-dimensionality of the instrumentation. Nonetheless, one should not be led astray by this criticism or by the Celtic motifs of the cover art: finally, for once, someone has attempted something genuinely new.

Kristian Selm