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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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BEN CRAVEN discography


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

3.55 | 35 ratings
Tunisia: Two False Idols
2005
3.88 | 77 ratings
Great & Terrible Potions
2011
3.83 | 18 ratings
Ben Craven & The Section: Dissected
2014
3.86 | 57 ratings
Last Chance to Hear
2016
4.13 | 64 ratings
Monsters from the Id
2022

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

3.50 | 2 ratings
Ben Craven & Tim Bennetts: ProgAustralis Live
2020

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

3.00 | 2 ratings
Ben Craven & Friends: First Chance to Hear
2017

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

4.17 | 11 ratings
The Single Edits
2017

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

2.32 | 6 ratings
Under Deconstruction
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Introducing Ben Craven
2021
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wicked Delights (Single Edit)
2022

BEN CRAVEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Monsters from the Id by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.13 | 64 ratings

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Monsters from the Id
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by TheEliteExtremophile

4 stars Yes casts a very long shadow over progressive rock. Their influence isn't just obvious in the music, but also in the visuals frequently deployed on album covers. Roger Dean-style artwork has become a cliche of the genre, and I have developed something of an apprehension about acts that use this visual style. I've harped on about acts that just uncreatively wallow in the mid-70s, and flashy album covers do not make up for bland, uninspired music. Thankfully, this is not one of those albums.

Monsters of the Id is the fifth full-length release from Australian multi-instrumentalist Ben Craven. It follows in the long prog tradition of albums made up of just two long songs. (Though for all the obvious Yes-isms on this album, that band never released a record with fewer than three songs.)

"Die Before You Wake" kicks the album off on an ominous note. Strings and vocal arrangements swirl in a foreboding maelstrom. This introductory passage is reminiscent of some of the darker moments off Yes's Magnification with the way strings are utilized. The eventual main theme which emerges is bouncy, and the use of chimes helps the melody stand out above the dark backing.

The first verse consists of just piano and vocals at first, though it soon reincorporates that dark main theme in the chorus. It's dramatic and attention-grabbing. There's a strong sense of drama as this movement pushes forward, and the lyrics match the tone of the music excellently. This somewhat suddenly resolves into a gentler movement, consisting of looping synths and dreamy guitar accents.

What eventually emerges is a mellow, folky passage led by acoustic guitar and warm synth. This movement drifts along for a while with some pleasant instrumental moments, but it then turns back into something anxious. Strings and guitar duel each other in an exciting passage, and it smoothly transitions back to the earlier main theme.

There is a piano passage near the end of this suite that is distractingly similar to "The Great Gig in the Sky", and it's topped by a guitar solo that sounds like it's straight off The Division Bell. It's not a bad way to end the song, but the references to Pink Floyd are so starkly obvious that it took me out of it a bit.

The second epic here is "Amnis Flows Aeternum". Lush synths and gentle nylon guitar provide a sense of sonic continuity with "Die Before You Wake", though the mood is considerably less dire. As the opening passage progresses, twangy guitar, low brass, and vibraphone evoke film scores.

A jumpy, Steve Howe-esque guitar line helps propel this piece into its next movement. This is a great example of Craven's ability to artfully build up the momentum of his pieces.

Vocals finally enter around the song's midpoint. The atmosphere is cinematic and ritualistic, being nearly chanted. Swooping choral arrangements add a nice mystique. The melody isn't quite as striking as on the previous song, but it's enjoyable nonetheless.

The verse eventually transitions to another quite-Gilmourian instrumental passage. Though a synth solo is the focus of it, it strongly evokes later Pink Floyd. After a reprise of the verse, there's another guitar solo, and this one sounds a bit more distinctive.

Craven's latest album does not stray too far from tried and true progressive rock tropes. The songs are epic, the playing is flashy, and the artwork is fantastical. There are some passages which crib from Yes and Pink Floyd to distracting degrees, but that is a relatively minor issue in the context of the whole.

Review originally posted here: theeliteextremophile.com/2022/06/27/album-review-ben-craven-monsters-from-the-id/

 Monsters from the Id by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.13 | 64 ratings

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Monsters from the Id
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars A one man band made this?!! I wish he had trusted someone from the outside to give him some constructive criticism with regards to sound engineering and final mix.

CD: - Side 1: 1. "Die Before You Wake" (19:32) solid construct (in 7/8--all 20 minutes!) with rich sound and great melodies and singing. The sound production, however, suffers from muddiness and a few uneven levels--and maybe some clarity and use of some odd effects. Very nice performances on all instruments and tracks (though nothing extraordinary much less jaw dropping). As catchy as that main melody and construct is, it really shouldn't go on for nearly 20 minutes. Sounds like something that Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre might have done (Nine Stones Close). Also, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra comparisons are not unwarranted--more for sound palette than pace and tech-metal twists and turns. (36/40): - a. Sleeping Spectre (2:19) - b. Ancient Majesty (1:31) - c. Die Before You Wake Part 1 (3:03) - d. Warming Glow (3:55) - e. Wicked Delights (2:40) - f. Die Before You Wake Part 2 (2:01) - g. Endless Night (4:03)

- Side 2: 2. "Amnis Flows Aeternum" (19:11) Unfortunately, much of this song sounds the same as the previous one; in my mind I literally cannot distinguish between the two: the music, melody, and singing from the previous one--as if it's a continuation or repeat. (There may be too many similarities to Hans Zimmer's Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks for me, mate!) Still a fine song, with lots of engaging elements, melodies, and sonic candy. (36/40): - a. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 1 (1:11) - b. Guiding Voice Part 1 (2:39) - c. Sound and Light (1:20) - d. Guiding Voice Part 2 (1:06) - e. Royal Rewards Part 1 (1:09) - f. Blessed Stream Part 1 (0:58) - g. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 2 (2:26) - h. Earthly Dues (2:47) - i. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 3 (3:04) - j. Blessed Stream Part 2 (0:51) - k. Royal Rewards Part 2 (1:02) - l. Guiding Voice Part 3 (0:38)

Total Time 38:43

It's a fine effort of solid, sophisticated, and melodic progressive rock, albeit NeoProg. Lush Yes-like soundscapes and instrumental choices with solid bass and quite good vocals, the sound engineering/mixing could have used some objective input. Nowhere near as sophisticated, virtuosic, or polished as the "classic era" masterpieces. If the sounds and styles weren't so dependent on (even directly copying) previous masers, I might be more generous with my final rating of this one--it is great music with serious compositional intention (I've watched all of his videos on YouTube regarding the making of this album, so I appreciate the effort and reasons for his constructs). Then there are my dissatisfaction with the sound engineering. As I said above, I wish Ben had had a few more critiques/inputs to help him create the best product for the public.

A-/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. While many are claiming Ben's effort here to be a masterpiece for the ages, I look at it as more of a masterpiece of respectful, diligent synthesis and imitation of the aged. Great job ? but but not much here, in my opinion, to "progress" the art form (except perhaps in the engineering room).

 Monsters from the Id by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.13 | 64 ratings

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Monsters from the Id
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by santisoux

5 stars This is an outstanding album, refreshing and yet quite set in the aesthetics of the 70s. key elements from different influences ranging specially in Yes, but managing to nevertheless sound very set in the current times. The way the two pieces are built is speaking of the way in which Craven serves composition, arrangements and the use of a very well structured and creative way of organizing the ups and downs in both long epics.

In a way reminiscent of many albums of the 70s (think of Thick as a Brick or Tubular Bells), the album consists of only two major epics, both clocking the 20 minutes. Both take the listener in a complex and yet easy listening journey through the sound palette Craven provides so enthusiastic of the way instruments work together in the aim of arranging an atmosphere. Since there is only one performer, Craven himself, it is difficult to hear the sensibilities of other musicians, but still it feels highly emotional, coherent and strongly armed.

The second epic flows around more sub-parts, and still, it follows perfectly in the set of colors the first epic had built. It opens with a very nice acoustic introduction. Despite the fact of having a continuity of small pieces interconnected, the themes return several times to provide the feeling of unity so very important in any epic.

I strongly recommend this one, I think is one of the best albums 2022 will provide! 5 stars

 Monsters from the Id by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.13 | 64 ratings

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Monsters from the Id
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

5 stars Ben CRAVEN is this Australian composer who has been playing everything since 2005. Known thanks to Roger DEAN for the 2011 cover with a symphonic prog rock where he himself quotes FOCUS, Earth and Fire, GRYPHON, CARAVAN, NEKTAR, SOFT MACHINE, CAN, ELOY, Grobschnitt, YES, GENESIS and PINK FLOYD. This 5th album consists of two long vinyl tracks with modern cinematic orchestral arrangements punctuated by instant singing and emotional guitar sequences, pieces dealing with the age-old fight between Good and Evil of man vis--vis himself; epic, moving prog

'Die Before You Wake' for the 1st musical slap, 7 linked tracks flirting with the cinematic symphony very fashionable today, on a classic flight la ORFF; an agreed tune with an aerial chorus with choirs, a riff reminiscent of the famous 'Kashmir', a break giving pride of place to the Hackettian guitar solo; windy, soaring art-rock progressive break, cloudy in its melodic design, Gilmourian solo; at 11mn it rises even higher before the return of the verse, a synth solo la BANKS, reminiscences ooze from all sides. The last quarter starts on a floydian bluesy sound of 'The Dark Side' with a spleen, moving and warm guitar; we are far on the Creation, the sky, the temptation and we are well.

'Amnis Flows Aeternum' and 12 drawers for circulation around eternity, crystalline guitar intro worthy of an ASIA 'Aqua', disturbing 70's spy film style keyboards that plunge into this cinematic genre, between rock prog, music classic and BOF, new fusion. It descends suddenly on a Squirian bass, the sharp guitar solo, vintage and dynamic, then dark and spleen at the same time with a singular tremolo; an orchestral slows down time before starting again, a keyboard and the 2nd 'Amnis' sung appears; crescendo bringing the music to the state of art illuminating the symphonic emotion in depth, worthy of a great PINK FLOYD. The last third goes back to the choirs, the vibrating guitar, a majestic experience that makes you forget time by taking up here and there the themes discussed before. 4 bonuses featuring titles from each composition, 'Die Before You Wake' and 'Wicked Delights' on the one hand for the radio hit edit and the symphonic madness; 'Guiding Voice' and 'Amnis Flows Aeternum' for the recognizable melody and the desire to immerse yourself in the two compositions.

Ben CRAVEN releases a magnificent album, it is said. Notes of hope, of overcoming, of majestic epic, 6 years used to make a top album 2022 quite simply; mix of intoxicating atmospheres, cinematic passages and dithyrambic breaks to sublimate our subjective vision of music, to bring the psyche to the firmament, to escape from this world where everything is still possible. CD/DVD in 5.1 mix with the illustration of Freya, like daughter of the master of prog covers.

 Monsters from the Id by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.13 | 64 ratings

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Monsters from the Id
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Steve Conrad

5 stars Exceptional Symphonic Progressive Rock

Majestic, Grand, Epic, Profound

Australian mastermind Ben Craven hands us a masterful progressive rock tour de force with this, his third full-length release since 2005's debut, "Tunisia: Two False Idols".

I know, I know, there are various other albums in his discography- collections, single edits, live versions. However, these are his important artistic statements, and "Monsters From The Id" is outstanding. I think it'll stand up beside "Close to the Edge" for artistic merit, musicianship, scope, and composition.

Theologian

Ben may not appreciate this appellation, yet the icing on the cake of this mature, soaring, complex work, is the persistent impression he leaves that he is maneuvering in spiritual territory.

The two epic halves of "Monsters" suggest the epic and ferocious battle between Good and Evil, and the title itself draws us into contemplation of the creatures we humans are- the 'id', the unconscious boiling within urging us to go for what we want when we want it, consequences be damned.

Die Before You Wake

The first half of the album draws from cinematic music-making with opening industrial sounds, yet grows from this chaos into symphonic splendor. with mighty choral sounds, and featuring Ben's soaring, melodic guitar lines.

There are suggestions in the lyrics of that great spiritual battle, with ideas of darkness, hate, vengeance, and destruction. These are set within the framework of Ben's epic compositions, punchy bass guitar underneath, majestic keyboards and synths, subsiding into extended reveries with echoing reflective guitar work, and growing once again into grandeur.

There is imagery of baptismal waters, damnation, and salvation, never heavy-handed, and considered in fine poetic pictures.

Amnis Flows Aeternum

The second half of "Monsters From The Id" opens with clean acoustic guitar, brooding deep synth sounds and added keyboards, leading into a gentle symphonic passage.

I understand why his music is referred to as "cinematic" since it shows sparkle, drama, and depth. It underscores the gorgeous and graceful poetry of lyrics referring to the cry for aid in remaining open, not prejudiced; staying loving, not vengeful; joining the mighty flowing streams of Eternity rather than being selfishly bound to the id.

Here we have Ben's soaring, seething electric guitar leads over majestic symphonic grandeur, giving way to crisp, complex guitar/bass unison lines and developing into some sinuous twin-guitar melody.

There is a nightmarish passage that grows and develops into musical bedlam, which gives way to grand choral passages, which in turn devolve with tremolo guitar leading into a moody, ponderous passage.

Finale

The grand ending wraps up this exceptional work with a winding-down, that again gives way to re-emerging grand themes and Ben's sighing, soaring signature guitar work.

My Conclusion

There IS a way we die before we experience transcendence. Dying to self and self-seeking, then awakening. Ben's notes say he intends this work to suggest the transcendence, the hope, the vastness, and the grandeur that we humans too easily lose sight of in the day-to-day hurly-burly.

I appreciate the reminder, done so beautifully here by a surpassingly gifted composer/musician.

My rating- 5 Sparkling Stars, a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

 Tunisia: Two False Idols by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.55 | 35 ratings

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Tunisia: Two False Idols
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Originally released in 2005 under the name of Tunisia, the debut album by Ben Craven, a talented Australian artist based in Brisbane, was re-released in 2012 as a solo work with a new mix and a different track list. Although in the new version the songs are bound together as if they were part of a long suite, the result is uneven and fragmented. According to the liner notes written in 2012 by the author, ultimately, Two False Idols is a singer-songwriter album first, with prog-rock elements inevitably creeping in. I agree, of course. This is a good album of classic rock with elements of rock'n'roll (Enough About You), rock blues la ZZ Top (Not Me It's You), calm ballads (Great Divide, If You Knew, Over, Look Away) and a strong leaning to AOR sprinkled with a touch of prog. Some tracks could recall The Beatles (Golden Band) or David Bowie's space oddities (Captain Caper) but there's nothing particularly complex or really memorable that you can find here.

On the whole, this is a pleasant listening for sure but not an essential album in a prog collection.

 The Single Edits by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2017
4.17 | 11 ratings

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The Single Edits
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Australian composer and musician Ben CRAVEN have made a name for himself in progressive rock circles by steadily releasing quality material for more than a decade, and while he isn't a household name yet those with a somewhat deeper knowledge about the genre these days will be aware of his material. "The Single Edits" is a compilation album, and was released in the spring of 2017.

The idea behind this compilation was, it would seem, to present Craven's music in a more accessible manner. To cut out what is unneeded, to separate singular entities from an epic length context, and otherwise present his music in a way and a manner that would not alienate the part of the listening audience that will never be quite at home with 15 minute epics or albums made in a manner that makes a whole album listen through mandatory to be able to capture the spirit of it all. In essence: To present the songs as individual entities that can be enjoyed in their own right, without being a part of a greater totality.

In many cases I do find Craven's material to be striking enough to come across as successful also in this context. The manner in which he blends atmospheric tendencies and what I'd generally describe as a Floydian take on progressive rock can at best be brilliant, and the ones shining brightest here in my personal opinion are Critical Mass part 2 and Spy in the Sky Part 3. Others are just about as striking as well, and the first half of this compilation is a joy to experience for most people with a tendency to like atmospheric laden, accessible progressive rock. Despite rather than because of the occasional film score tendencies in my opinion.

Some of the gentler and more acoustic based excursions later on doesn't quite strike me in the same manner, and some of the other cuts are too slowly paced for my personal taste to be able to impress me on a higher level. But there aren't any songs here that are not good, merely a few cases of songs that for my particular taste in music are more pleasant than striking.

As far as the general premise of this compilation goes, to present the music of the artist in a more accessible manner, I find this compilation to be successful in that context. This is an album that will have a broader appeal due to the shorter length of the songs and that they are not a part of a greater totality. Besides that aspect of it, this is a fine introduction to the musical universe of Ben Craven, and those unfamiliar with his material that tend to enjoy accessible progressive rock of an atmospheric laden and Floydian vein should find this album to be a good place to start discovering his take on this kind of music.

 Last Chance to Hear by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 57 ratings

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Last Chance to Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Australian composer and musician Ben CRAVEN first appeared back in 2005, initially releasing music as the one man band Tunisia, but subsequently opting to release future albums under his own name. He has four full length albums to his name so far. "Last Chance to Hear" is the most recent of his these, and was self-released in the spring of 2016.

It doesn't take all that long to understand that Ben Craven has a certain passion for progressive rock, nor that his possibly greatest sources of inspiration lies in the more mainstream oriented parts of that musical universe. His material is easy on the ears and the mind, and he appears to revel in the creation of moods and atmospheres to a much greater extent than to create complex structures, challenging arrangements or to push the boundaries of music to the borders of one extreme or another. Distinct melodies, flowing instrument motifs and arrangements revolving around harmonies rather than disharmonies is the order of the day here, and the sound is open, warm and inviting throughout.

There are a few different flavors of the genre explored on this production, but the kind of material that dominates are compositions I'd describe as orchestral-oriented, ambient flavored compositions that resides firmly inside a symphonic progressive rock tradition. Some traces of Genesis here and ELP there can be found, albeit not all that often, what is more often the case are creations without a clear and distinct nod to any of the well known giants really. Subtle orchestral effects and floating keyboard layers combines with careful guitar embellishments and occasional elegant piano motifs to form subtly dramatic creations with ambient tendencies, relatively gentle affair but with tension, drama and the odd firmer detail here and there that adds nerve and emphasize the careful dramatic nature of the material. Pink Floyd fans will find a few of the more gentle guitar solo runs familiar, but on occasion Craven shows that he isn't a stranger to the joys of hard rock either, with a few forays into areas of a harder edged and firmer general expression. There are also some exceptions here and there, like the rockabilly meets Genesis charms of Revenge of Dr. Komodo, or the delicate, melancholic piano dominating final track Mortal Remains.

Those fond of atmospheric laden, cinematic progressive rock should find Craven's most recent studio production "Last Chance to Hear" to be a generally appealing production. Symphonic progressive rock fans that enjoy ambient and orchestral details combining in landscapes with occasional similarities to the likes of late 70's Pink Floyd appears to be to be something of a key audience for this CD.

 Last Chance to Hear by CRAVEN, BEN album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.86 | 57 ratings

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Last Chance to Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

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
3.86 | 57 ratings

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Last Chance to Hear
Ben Craven Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Heavy Prog 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.

Thanks to windhawk for the artist addition.

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