Hermetic Science is the project of musician and author Ed Macan, and this is the third album from the band. While earlier efforts featured a more percussion and vibes based sound, En Route is a full-blown keyboard intensive assualt, mixing classical music and ELP inspired prog bombast. Consisting of one seven minute song and the epic title suite, this is progressive rock indeed.
Macan proves to be quite adept at successfully utilizing multiple keyboards for a huge symphonic wall of sound. The ARP String Ensemble is featured mightily on the opener "Mars, The Bringer of War", a rather doomy piece with its ominous Mellotron-like waves, raging Hammond, and nimble MicroMoog runs. The 44 minute "En Route" is like a distant cousin to "Tarkus" by ELP. Broken down into seven parts, this piece takes you through a wonderful yet dark journey. Inspired by the novels of J.K. Huysmans, "En Route" plays like seven separate mini-epics that segue into each other. The four-part "Against the Grain" features creepy ARP String Ensemble chords, majestic piano, and the inventive vibes of Macan. Jason Hoopes lays down some melodic bass lines that match Macan's lead vibes perfectly on Part Two, while the band goes for a harder rocking and more symphonic tone on Part Three. Part Four is ELP all the way, with the tricky drum work of Matt McClimon laying the foundation for Macan's bombastic Hammond and MicroMoog. "La-Bas" kicks off with some haunting digital pipe organ and melodic piano before turning into a symphonic classical tinged piece with varied percussion from Joe Nagy. Hoopes pulls out his sitar on the Middle Eastern sounding "Raga Hermeticum", which also features some neat soprano and tenor recorders from Macan. The closing section of "En Route" is an upbeat acoustic and electric piano led piece that ends the CD on a high note.
As far as instrumental keyboard dominated albums go, this is the one of the best. Macan, whose love for the progressive rock genre is well known, has shown that the spirit of prog can be passed on in both the written word as well as through recorded music. Highly recommended.