2016-05-27 – Music Street Journal (Review)

Originally published:
http://www.musicstreetjournal.com/index_cdreviews_display.cfm?id=105333
Ben Craven

Last Chance to Hear

Review by G. W. Hill
This is the newest disc from Ben Craven, and it’s great. Most of this is instrumental, but there are a few songs with vocals. Most notably, William Shatner guests on one track. The balance between rocking and mellow is good. I love how this manages to be prog, but also have a lot of groove and a spirit of fun. It comes with a bonus DVD that includes some music videos and a bit on the making of the album. The CD is divided as two sides of a record, making me think it’s meant to be heard on vinyl.

Track by Track Review

Side One

Last Chance to Hear, Pt. 1
There is sound of a scratched record at the start of this. Then some atmospherics threaten some seriously crazed prog. Instead, though, it launches out into a retro textured, jazzy kind of jam. This is classy stuff that’s a bit light-hearted in some ways. It’s a fun number that’s also meaty. It works out to some killer prog later that’s more like what the intro had me thinking I would hear on this. A crescendo gives way to a mellower bit of musical magic that segues into the next song.

Critical Mass, Pt. 1
There are some non-lyrical vocals on this cut, but otherwise it’s an instrumental. It’s a powerful piece with some magical mellower sounds early. Near the end it gets powered up, by infusing the same musical concepts with more sound energy.

Critical Mass, Pt. 2
As this comes into being it has both symphonic elements and some hints of crunchy metallic sound. I love some of the cool echoey guitar that comes across here. It’s part Ventures and part David Gilmour in a lot of ways. It shifts toward the bizarre as it continues. This is a bit like King Crimson in some ways. From there we’re brought back into the earlier segment for more guitar soloing. This is another cool instrumental.

Spy in the Sky, Pt. 2
The progressive rock on this cut is powerful and inspired. The piece has plenty of rock along with symphonic elements and more. This includes some shifts and changes as it carries forward, too. This instrumental also includes some segments that move toward fusion and others that lean along the lines of space rock.

Spy in the Sky, Pt. 3 (feat. William Shatner)
Continuing the musical themes of the last track, this comes in with a lot of soaring magic. It works through some changes. As the parenthetical suggests, William Shatner provides vocals here. They are mostly spoken/emoted. This piece is pretty cool. There really is a sort of magic to it as far as I’m concerned. I really am enthralled with some of the keyboard work on this thing. It’s incredible. The musical shifts and changes that emerge near the end are great, too. This ends with the sound of a record.

Side Two

The Remarkable Man
There is a killer mainstream rock vibe to this. It has some hints of jazz in the mix. It’s a fun rocker with some catchy musical hooks and great moments. It gets into some space music at the end.

Spy in the Sky, Pt. 1
Coming out of the atmospherics of the previous cut, some piano rises up to weave the melody lines. The piece grows outward from there. As the arrangement fills out more some melodic guitar solos over the top. This instrumental is classy and quite tasteful.

Revenge of Dr. Komodo
A smoking hot, hard rocking jam, this has a real modern King Crimson vibe in a lot of ways. There is some killer organ work later on in this instrumental. It’s another that has some hints of things like The Ventures, but in a more modern prog rocking concept.

Last Chance to Hear, Pt. 2
Retro rock, modern progressive rock and more merge on this smoking hot instrumental. It has some exceptional music and great changes. A lot of this just oozes cool. It’s full of turns and twists. Yet it never feels strained or awkward. Who says instrumental progressive rock can’t be fun? The record sounds return at the end of this.

Mortal Remains
This one starts in a piano solo and gradually builds out from there. It remains quite mellow and slow moving. There are some dissonant moments and it’s really just piano with a little guitar in a bit of the song (and some harp at the end) with the piano the only instrument present for the whole piece.