140

Ed Macan's Hermetic Science: Prophesies

By

Sign in to view read count
Ed Macan's Hermetic Science: Prophesies Ed Macan - scholar, author, progressive rock aficionado... and mallet percussionist. His band Hermetic Science (the band that brought you “Mars: The Bringer of War” played on the marimba) is back for another go around of “vibrariffic” music with their second CD titled Prophesies. However, this time around Macan brought some other instruments along for the ride, resulting in some surprisingly (for me, anyway) pleasant compositions. However, no Hermetic Science album would be complete without a bizarre cover tune and Prophesies is no exception. I’ll address this first...

Although no where near as shocking as “Mars: The Bringer of Mallets,” the cover of Rush’s “Jacob’s Ladder” on Prophesies is equally ill-advised. The original “Jacob’s Ladder” is a song that builds up over 7 or so minutes; its climax and denouement depend on Alex Lifeson’s powerful guitar riffs and power chords. No matter what you do to a marimba (short of perhaps running through a fuzz-box), you’re not going to get a powerful enough sound to do this song justice. So this attempt at a cover tune doesn’t work very well. However, Macan would make up for this later in the album with an excellent cover of ELP’s epic, “Tarkus.”

Following “Jacob’s Ladder” is a short vibraphone-heavy tune called “Intrigue in the House of Panorama,” which actually sounds like it was influenced by 60’s “spy” music like “Secret Agent Man” and the like. The sound doesn’t particularly work very well when combined with mallet percussion, but I do think it is an interesting idea. After this slight diversion, Hermetic Science delve into what is the centerpiece of Prophesies : a 41-minute original suite comprising of six separate movements. Maintaining interest in a composition for over 40-minutes is a tall order, but I would have to say that Macan just about pulls it off here. Although the suite begins with – you guessed it – more marimbas and vibraphones, by the end of the piece Macan has broken out the Hammond, a Steinway Grand Piano, a Micro Moog, and even a soprano recorder! The fourth movement of the suite titled “Lament” is an absolutely beautiful piece made up mostly of Macan’s excellent piano playing... I actually wish he’d do an entire album worth of piano compositions, because his playing is fantastic. Anyway, the Prophesies does have some tedious moments, but overall it is a very good composition and shows what Macan is capable of when he uses all of his musical talents.

However, like a good showman, Macan saves the best for last – a rendition of ELP’s mighty “Tarkus” suite completely performed on the Steinway Grand Piano. It is here that he hits the proverbial “nail on the head,” somehow managing to capture the power of the original using just his musicianship and his piano. His playing is again incredible, especially when you realize that the entire 19-minute piece was recorded live with no edits or overdubs! This track alone is definitely worth the price of admission.

If there were an award for “most improved band,” Hermetic Science would certainly get my vote. They’ve gone from a dismal effort (their eponymous debut) to a surprise success with Prophesies. Other then a slight misstep in his decision to cover “Jacob’s Ladder,” Macan shows on this album that he is a formidable composer, and an excellent musician on a wide range of instruments. Heremtic Science – its not just for mallet enthusiasts anymore!


Track Listing: 1. Jacob

Personnel: Ed Macan: Vibes, Marimba, Piano, Soprano Recorder, ARP String Ensemble, Hammond Organ, Micro Moog; Nate Perry: Bass Guitar (Tracks 1,2); Andy Durham: Bass Guitar (

Title: Prophesies | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Magnetic Oblivion Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Translator's Note CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Then and Now CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Gol CD/LP/Track Review Gol
by James Nadal
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Duo (DCWM) 2013 CD/LP/Track Review Duo (DCWM) 2013
by John Sharpe
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "A Home In Between" CD/LP/Track Review A Home In Between
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 17, 2017
Read "In Layers" CD/LP/Track Review In Layers
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 13, 2017
Read "South Beat" CD/LP/Track Review South Beat
by Edward Blanco
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Guitar Fantasies" CD/LP/Track Review Guitar Fantasies
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 11, 2016
Read "The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review The Art of the Improv Trio Volume 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 30, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.