Hermetic Science


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Prophesies, released two years after Hermetic Science's debut CD, pushes Ed Macan's vision a lot further. First, the leader expands the instrumentation. On top of the rhythm section (this time drummer Matt McClimon and bassists Andy Durham and Nate Perry), listeners still find the vibraphone and marimba that gave the first opus its distinctive personality and charm, but also piano, organ, and vintage synthesizers. Therefore, the group sound crawls closer to that of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The CD is split in three courses, so to speak. First are the hors d'oeuvres, an arrangement of Rush's "Jacob's Ladder" (so soft compared to the original that some will have a hard time recognizing it) and "Intrigue in the House of Panorama," a short original composition that works as a sequel to the first album's "Fanfare (For the House of Panorama)." Then comes the main course: "Prophesies," a suite in six movements, for a total of 41 minutes. In the purest tradition of progressive rock epics, the piece goes through a wide range of themes and dynamics. The chamber rock of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, detectable in previous pieces like "The Sungazer," have made way for more classical chops ("Lament," the fourth movement, follows a standard prelude and fugue form). The piece requires many listens before it can make a lasting impression. It is simply too dense, too packed. Here the group's name earns all its meaning, as this is hermetic music indeed, a feeling enhanced by the Biblical theme that runs through it and the quotes in Latin. Which makes the inclusion of Macan's solo piano arrangement of ELP's classic epic "Tarkus" all the more delectable. Back on something any prog rock fan knows by heart, one can admire Macan's virtuosity and arranging skills. A great dessert to help digest a heavy meal.

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