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BEN CRAVEN

Crossover Prog • Australia


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Ben Craven biography
Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben CRAVEN rose to prominence back in 2005, when he put the finishing touches on his first ever solo production Two False Idols. His first ever standalone creation, and the result of Craven tiring of the band project approach and opting to do everything himself instead. For this initial excursion he chose to use the artist moniker Tunisia. Following the release of this album Craven opted to continue on as himself in name too.

2007 saw Craven issue the EP Under Deconstruction as a free download. This partially as a protest against the music industry, who at that point had a minor obsession with DRM-protection of music sold.

Great & Terrible Potions is the name of Craven's most recent production, which was released in August 2011. The first full length production issued under his own name, and if initial reactions are to be trusted one should hope that this is but the first of many still to come.

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CRAVEN, BEN - LAST CHANCE TO HEAR + DVDCRAVEN, BEN - LAST CHANCE TO HEAR + DVD
unknown
Audio CD$36.62
$33.66 (used)
Great & Terrible PotionsGreat & Terrible Potions
Desert Comb Music 2011
Audio CD$15.63
$15.64 (used)
Great & Terrible Potions by Ben CravenGreat & Terrible Potions by Ben Craven
Desert Comb Music
Audio CD$67.08
Great & Terrible Potions by Craven, Ben [Music CD]Great & Terrible Potions by Craven, Ben [Music CD]
JFK
Audio CD$84.88
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BEN CRAVEN discography


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BEN CRAVEN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 18 ratings
Two False Idols (as Tunisia)
2005
3.86 | 55 ratings
Great and Terrible Potions
2011
4.20 | 5 ratings
Dissected (as Ben Craven & The Section)
2014
3.84 | 35 ratings
Last Chance To Hear
2016

BEN CRAVEN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BEN CRAVEN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

2.21 | 5 ratings
Under Deconstruction
2007

BEN CRAVEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Last Chance To Hear by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 35 ratings

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Last Chance To Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Australia - hardly a hotbed of progressive musicianship! Oh, there's no shortage of `adventurous metal' bands piggy-backing on the "prog" tag in that country, but artists working in more symphonic-flavoured prog-related styles are few and far between. Thankfully we have Australian multi-instrument Ben Craven flying the prog flag in this country, who already released a superb symphonic work back in 2011, `Great and Terrible Potions' (come for the lovely Roger Dean cover, stay for the winning music!), and he follows it up five years later with the even greater `Last Chance to Hear', a grand canvas of cinematic- styled prog that even boasts a guest appearance from Star Trek's William Shatner!

It's odd to discover on the first listen that `Last Chance...' is mostly instrumental-based, with Ben (who has a charismatic, gently raspy voice that's always a pleasure to hear) only singing on two of the ten tracks on offer, but by stepping back a little from vocal-driven pieces, he's replaced them with a rich and lavish selection of continuous atmospheric instrumental showcases, highlighted by his skills across a range of instruments but performed with the liveliness of a full band. Whilst hardly lazily retro here, his influences range from the first few Steve Hackett solo discs, Pink Floyd (and Ben's guitar tone is beautifully David Gilmour-flecked without sounding like a lazy clone for even a single second) and Porcupine Tree, with perhaps a pinch of Mike Oldfield, and there's even a cool quasi-Bond theme slinking into the halfway point of the disc for good measure.

With the CD indexed into two vinyl-length sides, the first part of the title track `Last Chance to Hear', a subtle yet blunt dig at the current hole the music industry is in, bursts to life like a funkier version of the Flower Kings that simmers with sweetly murmuring bass, a pounding jazzy beat, tasty bristles of Hammond organ and scorching electric-guitar embers in the finale. The two-part `Critical Mass' changes direction immediately, beginning life as a mysterious gothic soundtrack-like piece of spectral male/female choral voices over grand orchestration. Buoyant chunky bass and a driving beat break through to raise the drama, with Ben's ringing and droning guitar drawls and quirky electronic weirdness over quickening clockwork-like percussion softly reminding of ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett's `Spectral Mornings' period. The second and third parts (yes, really, so those prone to brain-melts hold on, Part One will show up later in the disc!) of `Spy in the Sky' may open with cool electronic programming, sprinklings of delicate piano and warm acoustic guitar, but it unfolds with a sense of wonder, William Shatner's ravishing narration delivered from on high and culminating in victorious electric guitar and spiralling synth duelling!

The `second side's `The Remarkable Man' is the above mentioned Bond-esque theme, with a wink in its eye and a sauntering groove to the synth-horn blasts and electric guitar slow-burn. Returning to the first part of `Spy in the Sky', the listener is blessed with a dreamy Gilmour-flavoured electric guitar, humming Hammond organ and reflective piano rumination that serves a similar purpose to Craven's achingly beautiful Rick Wright tribute `The Conjurer' on his previous `...Potions' disc, and it could have easily fit alongside `Marooned' on Pink Floyd's own `Division Bell' album.

The energetic and playful (and amusingly titled!) `Revenge of Dr Komodo' marries angular King Crimson guitar bite and swagger with an ocean of whirring keyboard wig-outs with touches of the bluster of Yes and ELP, and it's the closest the album comes to a vintage-influenced moment. The second part of the title-track soars with weeping slide guitar strains, darker funky up-tempo bursts and a brooding heavier energy that almost calls to mind some of the later Porcupine Tree albums, eventually launching into groovy extended jamming and wailing soloing before closing on an almost bluesy strut. Then, album closer `Mortal Remains' is a fragile solo piano come-down that again calls to mind Rick Wright with its careful melancholic traces.

Special mention must go to Freyja Dean's colourful nature-infused psychedelic artwork that would surely give the Ozric Tentacles a wet dream, and it looks a treat on the triple foldout digi-pack edition that comes with a bonus DVD of promo material and videos, as well as a small poster. It just adds a special, instantly eye-catching quality that lifts an already wondrous musical work even higher, and besides, all the best prog albums should have the obligatory surreal and eye-catching artwork always associated with the genre!

With `Last Chance to Hear', Ben Craven has simply outdone himself and stepped up in a massive way from already hugely satisfying earlier releases, and he's delivered a gloriously vibrant work full of variety, sophistication, true heart and even a welcome sense of sly fun! Forget just calling it `the best Australian prog-release of the year', Ben has delivered one of the best overall symphonic/cinematic/eclectic/take your pick albums of 2016, and he should be immensely proud of his efforts here.

Four and a half stars.

 Last Chance To Hear by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.84 | 35 ratings

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Last Chance To Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock / Fusion / Canterbury Team

4 stars Melodic ear candy of "unabashedly cinematic prog" from Aussie multi-instrumentalist (and uber-talented guitarist) Ben Craven. The production and performances are at times lacking polish or nuance, but this is a nice collection of instrumental songs that would make great accompaniment to scenes in sci-fi B-movies (or videos).

Favorite tracks: the brilliantly guitar soloed 7. "Spy in the Sky, Part 1" (4:47) (9/10); the Rick WAKEMAN-influenced 4. "Spy in the Sky, Part 2" (4:42) (9/10); the simple yet beautiful piano (with harp late) solo, 10. "Mortal Remains" (3:16); (9/10); 2. "Critical Mass, Part 1" (3:00) (8/10); 3. "Critical Mass, Part 2" (3:25) (8/10), and; the melodramatic 5. "Spy in the Sky, Part 3 (featuring William Shatner)" (8:43) (8/10).

A four star album; a nice addition to any prog lover's music collection.

 Great and Terrible Potions by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 55 ratings

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Great and Terrible Potions
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars One of my favorite albums from 2011 was Ben Craven's Great and Terrible Potions, which is a symphonic journey full of exciting twists and memorable melodies. I highly recommend this to fans of Kansas and other such bands that have orchestral finesse but also a penchant for occasional straightforward rock excursions- a real gem.

"Diabolique" The door to the secret chambers creaks open and the sound of an ominous music box leads into a piano introduction. Loaded with organ, punchy bass, and other elements, this symphonic rock overture introduces the listener to one of several melodic themes.

"Nobody Dies Forever Part 1" The first song, with slide guitar and trembling bass leading the way, has a cabaret feel. Craven's voice is clean and low in the verses, but soft and airy in the refrain. A screaming guitar solo finishes things off.

"Aquamarine" Atmospheric keyboards and distant vocals create a tranquil, almost out-of-body experience, as though one is about to kiss death and can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. A bluesy guitar breaks the spell. The dreamy rock music that follows somewhat references Pink Floyd.

"Ready to Lose" This is a catchy acoustic rock song that reminds me of Spock's Beard on their more acoustic moments. It does become more energized after the first verse, bringing in electric guitars, bass, drums, and a vocoder.

"The Conjurer" Exquisite piano introduces the bittersweet twang of the guitar, and overall, this moves and feels like an opus from the Electric Light Orchestra- it just needs Jeff Lynne's voice and falsetto harmonies to complete it. The guitar solo, however, sets it apart.

"No Specific Harm" The first of two extended songs (and one of the best on the album) has a moody backdrop with grim guitar. As the drums enter, the music seems cinematic, like the perfect soundtrack for an army in a fantasy film marching to battle. The music is painted darkly, with hushed vocals and a very memorable, sinister refrain.

"Solace" As the title implies, this interlude on classical guitar is quite peaceful, warm, and inviting, eventually adding piano and other light keyboards, and finally a heartfelt lead guitar.

"Nobody Dies Forever Part 2" Craven briefly revisits the second track.

"Great & Terrible Potions" The second extended piece, the title track, begins with a natural-sounding voice and piano. The instrumental interlude has a variety of bellicose keyboards. The song also features the skillful lead guitar work the rest of the album has shown previously. The music box plays once more, and the door to this nightmarish, alchemic world is shut.

 Two False Idols (as Tunisia) by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.81 | 18 ratings

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Two False Idols (as Tunisia)
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Two False Idols' - Ben Craven (7/10)

BEN CRAVEN was one of 2011's breakthrough prog artists. Whether it was his singer- songwriter approach to progressive rock, or simply the lavish Roger Dean (of Yes fame) cover art, his 'Great and Terrible Potions' was one of the more acclaimed releases of the year. Although I sadly never got around to listening to CRAVEN's work when it was hot off the press in 2011, a re-release of his estranged debut gives me a chance to redeem myself. If 'Two False Idols' is any indicator of what his later work is like, then I am sure I will be giving Mr. Craven quite a bit more of my listening time in the future.

First published under the 'band' name TUNISIA, BEN CRAVEN has re-released 'Two False Idols' under his own name, presumably in the hopes to give t some more deserved attention. Before 2011, it's safe to say that BEN CRAVEN was fairly unknown, even to up-to- date proggers.The choice of musical style on 'Two False Idols' may give a reason as to why the progressive music scene did not instantly pick him up. While many bands in prog nowadays are ever increasingly incorporating more accessible, melodic material into their music, few ever go so far as to bring commerce-worthy sounds into their work. That's not to say that BEN CRAVEN's music would fit into a pop radio station's schedule too well, but some of these songs are very down-to-earth. 'Two False Idols' is of course graced with its fair share of prog; 'Golden Band' (split into two parts for this rerelease) is a great showcase of his memorable melodies overtop an eerie synth hook. 'Captain Caper' is CRAVEN's charming attempt at psych-pop, and I cannot help but feel reminded of DAVID BOWIE while listening to it.

The 'pop' sounds manifest themselves most clearly in BEN CRAVEN's unmistakable singer-songwriter approach for many of these tracks. Although Floyd-derived spaceyness is infused in most of the material, the upbeat song 'Enough About You' could have easily come out of the BARENAKED LADIES' catalogue. 'Not Me It's You' is another one that's plenty of fun, but alas, the enjoyment wears thin after a few listens, and they feel out-of-place in the context of what is otherwise a fine piece of Floydian space-songwriter rock. With that being said, 'If You Knew' is arguably my favourite track on the album, and it's about as singer- songwriter as it gets!

Although its length of fifty-something minutes is pretty standard for an album, something about 'Two False Idols' feels like it overstays its optimal length by about ten minutes. Nothing on 'Two False Idols' makes me want to turn the album off, but- save for the modified 'Golden Band' duology- BEN CRAVEN's debut sounds more like a collection of songs than a put-together album. There's no denying that the man's got a great hand at songwriting however, and he's got a pretty decent voice to boot. For most of you who may have overlooked this debut when it first came out, or have never heard BEN CRAVEN's work at all, this remixed edition is a very enjoyable experience.

 Under Deconstruction by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2007
2.21 | 5 ratings

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Under Deconstruction
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Australian self-taught guitarist/keyboardist from Brisbane, who's early career included many small bands, all though unable to satisfy Ben's anxious spirit.In 2005 he released the album ''False idols'' under the Tunisia moniker, soon to replace it with his birthname and eventually release a short EP, entitled ''Under deconstruction'', as a free downloadable album in 2007.

''Under deconstruction'' seems like a deep trully personal effort of Ben Craven to produce delicate acoustic soundscapes than to let his talent fully unfold and sufficiently introduce himself to the public.The opening ''Great divide'' is a great guitar/piano presentation with lovely vocals, which can set the listener to a dreamy mood, only to be spoiled by the dull ''Enough about you'' and his sort of boogie/rural atmosphere.''Captain caper'' is more of the same, though the nice late acoustic solo and more interesting vocals make it quite decent, while ''Look away'' is a typical ballad with no particular surprises and Craven's soft touch on the forefront.

This album marks just a Ben Craven presenation to the world of music and no more than that.Soft acoustic pieces dominated by Craven's guitar, easy-listening and very accesible to everyone, but far from his true musical spirit.Still some minutes of downloadable time are enough to judge for yourself around this EP.

 Great and Terrible Potions by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.86 | 55 ratings

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Great and Terrible Potions
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Despite the old saying that states not to judge a book by its cover, my first thoughts about Great & Terrible Potions were based entirely on its album cover. The excellent artwork - courtesy of none other than the legendary Roger Dean - provides a good insight into the music contained on this disc. Top-notch modern progressive rock is what you should expect from Great & Terrible Potions, and Ben Craven's admirable skills as a musician and songwriter are sure to have him recognized by prog fans around the globe. Believe it or not, Ben Craven actually handles everything related to the music on this album, including the vocals, instruments, and production. One-man acts often have a tendency to feel slightly underdeveloped or immature, but that is not the case with Great & Terrible Potions - this is modern prog rock at its best. Fans of Yes, Spock's Beard, Kevin Gilbert, and Echolyn should take notice.

Ben Craven's strongest asset as a musician is arguably in the songwriting department. Great & Terrible Potions is a fairly accessible album, and it's filled to the brim with memorable hooks, strong melodies, and well-composed arrangements. Ben simply knows how to create memorable progressive rock, and the well-executed musicianship gives the album an extra layer of professionalism. His skill as a guitarist and keyboardist shine especially brightly, and even though the drums and bass tend to take a bit of a backseat on this album, the arrangements never feel uneven. Ben is also quite a talented vocalist with a style that brings prog legend Neal Morse to mind. The production, despite being completely do-it- yourself, still sounds completely professional and it suits the music perfectly. It may be a bit too raw for some listeners, but I think Ben Craven also did an excellent job with this key aspect of the album.

If you're into progressive rock with a sleek, modern edge, it's difficult to go wrong with Great & Terrible Potions. Ben Craven's tremendous ability to combine memorable hooks with complex progressive rock and cinematic orchestral music is astounding, and I'll be keeping a very close eye on where this excellent Australian musician heads in the coming years. This album fits my 4 star recommendation like a glove - this is one of 2011's highlight progressive rock albums, and an essential acquisition for fans of the genre!

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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