RYTHME ET RAISON (France) no. 10 (summer 1998), p. 31

Ed Macan’s Hermetic Science

Music instructor at an American college, last year Ed Macan published an encyclopedia of progressive rock consisting of musicological and sociological analysis (see Rythme et Raison no. 9); this time, he gives for our listening the results of his work with students at the College where he teaches, and attempts to break with the canons of this musical genre. It is not for no reason that Americans have baptized progressive rock as "pomp rock," since it is true that, since its genesis, a good number of groups have used with delight grandiloquent keyboards or megalomaniacal orchestrations.

Contrary to this tendency, still very real, Ed Macan has composed what one could call a minimalist progressive album (in reference to the "minimal rock" of the 1980s), supporting itself essentially upon a trio of drums, bass, and . . . vibraphone! This instrument, to those oblivious to the jazz world (we recall certain compositions by Pierre Moerlen’s Gong), is perhaps that which one could imagine better for being set up against the Yamaha DX7 as well as the Fairlight synthesizers.

Interlocking, enshrining, melodic complexities sustained by a nimble bass and a jazzy drumkit, all is set in place by Macan in order to prove that progressive rock rests upon an approach and not upon a piling up of exotic instruments and sonorities. Besides his own instrumentals, Macan risks the reprise of certain canons of progressive rock (ELP and Curved Air), or of contemporary music (Gustav Holst), but the spirit remains identical: concern for the melody beyond the complexity of the compositions.

Michel Blanc