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Hermetic Science : Crash Course - A Hermetic Science Primer

As a double CD compilation of some of the band's best music since their inception in the mid 90's, this new release covers a lot of terrain in a suitably sufficient manner as to allow a newcomer to their music to fully absorb and appreciate what the band has achieved during that time. For many music fans who have discovered the existence of a band whose output may have been either deleted or simply difficult to find, there can be no denying the instant gratification one can gain from having a collection of "better" songs all condensed onto one or two discs. It's being able to offer the most suitable songs that can be the difficult part with any project like this but not being aware of any of their former music makes it a little less subjective for a casual listener like myself to really know what their best material was in the first place.

As is so often the case with "Best of's" and "Greatest Hits" for any commercial band to offer such a compilation, the choice becomes fairly academic. Simply include all the songs that charted the best and sold the most copies. With music such as this, there certainly isn't a suitable publicly endorsed yardstick, by which anyone can accurately gauge how well each album sold. That information can only be ascertained by the independent label or the band themselves. They in turn will hardly be aware of which songs from each album were the most popular. To determine which songs from which album to include with such a compilation therefore becomes crucial if the desire is to appeal to many more new listeners as existing fans may well already possess a bands complete output anyway. That, as far as I can determine, must equate to the most difficult decision a band can have when attempting such a project. Perhaps thankfully, then, the band have opted to include 5 of 8 tracks from their first album, 7 of 9 tracks from their second and all tracks from their third. Conclusion: If, in the interests of brevity, they have not included any particular songs, then you would hardly notice their omission. This is about as complete a compilation as any band could offer. 135 minutes of complex, atmospheric and surreal musical motifs that are both evocative and yet very capably played. To make matters even more appealing, all the songs have been remixed and remastered from the original tapes.

Needless to say, it becomes fairly evident from the outset that the band has included many songs that attempt to offer a more exploratory view of how tuned percussion should really sound. It must be emphasised right from the get go that this band's music is all about texture, depth, clarity and vision. The songs are incredibly diverse, have a huge variety of complex arrangements and utilise just about every form of jazz percussion imaginable. With a virtuoso mallet percussionist at the helm, Hermetic Science adopted a free spirited form of ECM spatial jazz with influences from Eastern music and twentieth century classical music. The first few songs showcase the band at its most embryonic but humble beginnings as it is not until well into the middle part of the first CD, that they utilise their arsenal of keyboards and infuse more of the songs with greater gusto. This is achieved through some slightly more aggressive drumming and some more adventurous and rousing keyboard themes courtesy of the acoustic piano, Hammond organ and ARP string ensemble.

The entire contents of the 2nd album are taken from their 2001 release entitled En Route and are even more replete with keyboards assuming the more dominant role while the involvement of the vibraphone takes a back seat role. The songs certainly have a more angular and chaotic delivery but fans of Terje Rypdal will be in their element here as he is a major influence with some of the bands music.

To fully appreciate this bands undeniably talented assortment of musical statements will take repeated listens if you have not discovered their music until now. Be prepared for long sessions under the headphones where the entirety of each disc can be played without interruption. Only then could you really garner some idea of what these musicians have managed to accomplish. This is a perfectly choreographed sojourn through a decade of what can only be described as some of the most dynamic yet individually challenging music I have heard in ages. This is really excellent stuff and a band I am really glad to have discovered. Well done guys! Let's keep an eye out for your next offering slated for release some time in 2007-8.

Track Details:

Disc 1.

1. Esau's Burden
2. Fire Over Thule
3. The Sungazer
4. Fanfare For The House of Panorama
5. Intrigue in The House of Panorama
6. Trisagion
7. Barbarians At The Gate
8. Hope Against Hope
9. Last Stand
10. Lament

Disc 2:

1. Leviathan & Behemoth
2. State Of Grace
3. Mars, The Bringer Of War
4. Against The Grain Part 1
5. Against The Grain Part 2
6. Against The Grain Part 3
7. Against The Grain Part 4
8. La Bas
9. Raga Hermeticum
10. En Route

Added: June 22nd 2006
Reviewer: Greg Cummins
Score:
Related Link: Band's Web Site
Hits: 2339
Language: english

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