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HERMETIC SCIENCE

Crossover Prog • United States


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Hermetic Science biography
US band project HERMETIC SCIENCE is the creative vehicle of music teacher, author, mallet enthusiast, composer and keyboardist Ed Macan, who for some best known for his books Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

The formation and continuation of the Hermetic Science project came to be for a number of different reasons. Macan wanted the band to be something of a testing ground for young, aspiring musicians, a place where they could hone and expand their skills and craftsmanship. What would be described as an apprenticeship in the days of yore. He also wanted to have an ongoing band project where he could explore and experiment with the use of mallet percussion, the use of and how to use and utilize them within various compositional frameworks as well as experimenting with different instrumental varieties of it and various manners on which to play them were equally important. Last but not least, Macan wanted this band project to be a true to nature progressive musical ensemble. One that stretched boundaries and crossed musical borders, adhering to the original philosophy of progressive rock rather than the reinterpretation of the style and approach previous artists had explored from the 60's and onwards.

The result was a band with multiple line-up alterations over the years, but planned and natural rather than forced by circumstance. To date this ensemble have issued four original full length studio productions and one double compilation album containing remixed versions of previously released material. The former being Hermetic Science (1997), Prophesies (1999), En Route (2001) and These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins (2008), the latter Crash Course: A Hermetic Science Primer (2006).

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Crash Course: A Hermetic Science PrimerCrash Course: A Hermetic Science Primer
Hermeticum Records 2006
Audio CD$14.98
$7.93 (used)
These Fragments I Have Shored Against My RuinsThese Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins
Musea 2008
Audio CD$10.99
ProphesiesProphesies
Magnetic Oblivion Records
Audio CD$10.99
$14.91 (used)


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HERMETIC SCIENCE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HERMETIC SCIENCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
Hermetic Science
1997
3.04 | 4 ratings
Prophesies
1999
3.67 | 3 ratings
En Route
2001
3.25 | 4 ratings
These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins
2008

HERMETIC SCIENCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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HERMETIC SCIENCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
Crash Course - A Hermetic Science Primer
2006

HERMETIC SCIENCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

HERMETIC SCIENCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Hermetic Science by HERMETIC SCIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Hermetic Science
Hermetic Science Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Hermetic science is a US-based project called by prog rock author Ed Macan in 1995.Besides being an author, Ed is a keyboardist and also a specialist on mallet percussions and its techniques.So, Hermetic Science was a good opportunity for him both to present widely instruments like the marimba and the vibraphone and to explore the boundaries of progressive rock music.The introduction was made with ''Ed Macan's hermetic science'' in 1997, recorded at the Ozone Studio in Eureka, California and released on his own Magnetic Oblivion label.Macan performs on vibraphone, marimba and piano, bass duties are provided by Donald Sweeney and Michael Morris plays drums and various percussions.

Three out of the eight tracks are covers on Curved Air's ''Cheetah'', E.L.P.'s ''Infinite space'' and British composer's Gustav Holst ''Mars, the bringer of war" from his work ''The planets''.Musically ''Hermetic science'' is close to something like an experimental Prog Rock album, where all themes supposedly performed on keyboards are subsituted by Macan's unique performances on vibraphone.As a result the album sounds pretty sterile, lacking the instrumental depth of analog or digital keyboards, played with acoustic textures and a solid rhythm section in the background.Although the Classical, jazzy and proggy vibes are evident throughout the album, the music tends to be often pretty improvised, laid-back and one-diemensional due to the abscence of dynamics and tight structures.From an academic point of view this is a very good execution and an open-minded approach to progressive music, but the constant presence of mallet percussions make it a bit boring and similar-sounding on the way.The covers are offering something new to the scene and are credited as a great idea by Ed Macan, although you will propably find yourself prefering the original versions.

The only way I could describe this music is mechanic.Cold, technical and loose with a similar atmosphere all the way.Macan's original approach is welcome, but it ends up to be a pretty hard listening as a whole, mostly interesting for musicians with a link with mallet instruments.

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 Crash Course - A Hermetic Science Primer by HERMETIC SCIENCE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Crash Course - A Hermetic Science Primer
Hermetic Science Crossover Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It may not earn a fraction of the praise lavished on other bands featured throughout these pages, but no website devoted to Progressive Rock would be complete without acknowledging this obscure, on again / off again trio from coastal northern California. The band was the brainchild of Professor Edward Macan, perhaps better known as the author of the 1997 book "Rocking the Classics", still one of the more thoughtful introductions to Prog Rock yet published.

Such an articulate defender of the faith certainly deserves a place at the Progarchives table, and not just for his academic smarts. Hoping to turn a scholarly passion for music into actual music, Macan formed a small combo centered on the sort of instruments (tuned percussion, marimba) typically reserved for jazzier supporting roles, but here deployed in a more dominant format. The band recorded three studio albums little heard outside Mendocino County, and later released this two-CD compilation, easily the best introduction to the music of Hermetic Science, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it collects all the original material off the band's three albums (sadly, omitting the sympathetic RUSH and ELP covers). Even better, the tunes have all been remixed to a higher fidelity than the earlier efforts, and further enhanced with discreet overdubs: sitars, and so forth.

The music itself demands a certain readjustment of expectations. Put another way: this is music that defies your expectations, which historically is what Progressive Rock was always meant to do. Listeners more accustomed to the full symphonic palette of classic Prog may find it a somewhat arid experience, but that might only be a matter of acclimation. A vibraphone, after all, is a more intimate musical instrument than an electric lead guitar or synthesizer, and the sometimes lively, sometimes contemplative melodies on these discs are hardly what anyone would call extroverted, even with a typically dynamic rhythm section in tow.

Judging from the selections here it was the first, self-titled album that stayed closest to the original concept for the band, and thus presented the most innovative music. Later attempts at a more traditional Prog Rock sound were less convincing, in part because of the anemic ARP string synthesizers Macan favored at the time. His adaptation of the Gustav Holst standard "Mars, The Bringer of War" sounds particularly bloodless, at least when compared to the muscular versions heard elsewhere from the likes of KING CRIMSON and ANEKDOTEN.

But the group, in all its periodic configurations, was (is?) undeniably unique. Credit the Professor, who not only organized the personnel and wrote nearly all the music, but who also fought a tireless rearguard action against record company indifference and public apathy (apparently a lot of Prog fans aren't as adventurous in their tastes as they like to think). Forward-thinking bands like Hermetic Science don't exactly help themselves by requiring the rest of us to catch up, but in the meantime we can enjoy a different but no less worthwhile side of the Prog Rock experience.

Ironic postscript: in his monumental study of ELP ("Endless Enigma", 2006) Macan admits to being "galled" by the organizers of Progressive Rock music festivals who overlooked his own band in favor of the many Neo-Prog copycats pandering to '70s nostalgia (singling out two groups in particular which he diplomatically refrains from naming, but I'm guessing one of them had to be SPOCK'S BEARD, a fixture at such events in the later 1990's). And yet, where was it that I found this Hermetic Science CD? On a vender's table at the 2008 Rites of Spring Festival: a textbook celebration of Prog conservatism (but still a gas, to this aficionado).

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 Prophesies by HERMETIC SCIENCE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.04 | 4 ratings

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Prophesies
Hermetic Science Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars The next work of Ed Macan was meant to be even more daring, his band even quit from live performances to focus on the sophomore's effort writing.''Prophesies'' came out in September 1999 on Magnetic Oblivion.Macan was supported by drummer Matt McClimon and bassists Nate Perry and Andy Durham.

The all-instrumental album opens with a cover of ''Jacob's Ladder'' by Rush,a vibraphone-seminar,which makes the song totally personal and very dreamy to say the least.The follower ''Intrigue in the House of Panorama'' is on the same path,vibraphone-driven musicianship under steady drumming and complex bass.The next to come is a really hard and eclectic adventure,the 6-pieces 41-min. grand eponymous epic.In this track Macan adds the moog synth,organ and piano in his armour,the composition recalls the complexity of the suites created by the classical composers and it is an unmet travel between classical music,jazz with also touches from Indian folk on flutes in an often minimalistic enviroment.A complete musical experiment only for the mystified!Experiments do not stop here.Macan goes even further,covering ELP's ''Tarkus'' suite with only his grand piano,a track recorded live in at the Shannon Center for the Performing Arts, Whittier, California,on April 1, 1992.The risky effort ends up to be rather succesful,as ''Tarkus'' is a composition close to the preferences and the style Macan wants to present.

The final taste is bittersweet.''Prophesies'' should be a superb album and a major listening for every serious student of music or any common music explorer but it is also a hard to get into-work for the average prog lover.The truth always lies somewhere in the middle,I guess.

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