According to the website of the College of the Redwoods the American Ed Macan is a popular music scholar. Furthermore author of Rocking The Classics: English Progressive Rock And The Counterculture (1997) and Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography Of Emerson, Lake And Palmer (2006). Moreover is he the founding member and composer of Hermetic Science, which released four studio albums between 1996-2008, a compilation, and a live album. Finally they say he is a vibraphonist, marimbist, pianist, keyboardist-at-large. But I guess most of our readers don't know Ed Macan and Hermetic Science. Not so strange because for many years no new albums were released until lately. Hermetic Science is back with Deliria: A Chronicle Of 2020!
The first Hermetic Science studio album in fifteen years has been released! And that's quite a surprise if I may say so! It features a brand new line up. Consisting of the earlier mentioned founding member Ed Macan on piano, digital keyboards and Hammond XB-2. And the rhythm section featuring Jeff Ruiz on bass guitar and Travis Strong on drums and percussion.
The music, written by Macan, was recorded on June 5 and 6, 2023. Macan also produced the entire album. However all of the arrangements for the compositions were done by Hermetic Science
For those who don't know the band at all and can't compare this release with earlier albums it becomes very clear to me that Deliria: A Chronicle Of 2020 is the darkest Hermetic Science album ever. It takes an unflinching look at the madness and mayhem of 2020. The year when the pandemic was the worst with many casualties. It also is their most cohesive album ever, essentially a single composition broken into nine tracks, with themes carried over and developed from track to track. Music wise the inspiration still comes most of all from the albums released by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Therefore it is not so strange that Macan wrote the two earlier mentioned books and also covered several of their compositions.
Most of the tracks Deliria 1 (Prelude-Main Theme), Deliria 4 (The Great Covid-19 Rave of 2020), Deliria 6 (Armageddon Warm: Song for a Dying Planet) and Deliria 8 (In the Dark Shadow of the Big Lie) the influences are very obvious. The same kind of piano playing as the late Keith Emerson used to demonstrated on ELP's many album releases. But also sometimes the sound of the Hammond organ and the synthesizers show a appreciation for this master of the keyboards.
All of the songs on this album are instrumentals and certainly have a retro sound which many lovers of progressive rock will like. Sometimes you are also drawn into the music and it is if you are in a horror or science fiction movie. Expressing the dark concept this album is all about. Without any doubt very cleverly done!
As for the album cover. This is their second consecutive studio album for which Paul Whitehead made the art and graphics design. He is best known as the Charisma house artist in the 1970s, especially on the early Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator releases. But also made album covers for Alex Carpani and Le Orme to mention a few. The cover for Deliria: A Chronicle Of 2020 is his apocalyptic Armageddon Warm, intended for the band Armageddon's A & M debut release in 1975, but rejected by their label for being “too dark.” Well, the times have caught up with his vision, and the they are proud to be able to feature this prophetic image some 48 years later.
All in all am I glad we have again a sign of life of Ed Macan and his Hermetic Science. It was a real pleasure listening to Deliria: A Chronicle Of 2020! Although not always easy to digest and it takes a couple of listening sessions to discover the inner beauty of this wonderful album. But it the end I guess it was worth the wait all of the fifteen years. All I can say now is don't wait another fifteen years to come up with a successor.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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