Originally published at http://www.ytsejam.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&rop=showcontent&id=1921
Craven, Ben – Great and Terrible Potions
2011 Desert Comb Music
It’s usually hit or miss when it comes to hearing an album that features only one man at the helm; usually the unipolar sound of one’s own ideas without any outside influence can run stale, but Ben Craven knows how to make his music sound like a band and not just a bunch of solos on top of what sounds like an overproduced demo.
Hailing from Australia, Craven’s labor of love (about a year of labor) has been unleashed as Great & Terrible Potions, and it heralds in the classic 70’s prog sound with the modernized twist, similar to bands/artists Mars Hollow, Cryptic Vision, Hamadryad, Frank Bossert/Eureka, & Magic Pie where you have the big synths, the odd time signatures, the jam sessions, the aura of improvisation, the screaming Hammond out of the swirling Leslie’s, and the epical compositions/songwriting, taking homage from Yes, Floyd, and Genesis but nodding to a more cotemporary melodic sensibility.
Whether it be the haunting opening of “Nobody Dies Forever,” the eerie neo-prog minded soundscape of “Aquamarine,” the darkened, multifaceted “No Specific Harm,” the symphonicly tinged title cut,” or the dreamy instrumental ballad “Solace,” there is a lot to go around on this record for every progger, whether you love to score the new sounds or are a purist rooted in the early years or art-rock. One thing that does hearken the classic era to the present one, is that Great & Terrible Potions features artwork from Roger Dean; can’t beat that for a logo or a cover.
Even with Craven playing everything, the record has the vibe and body of a full band, as if each instrument has been meticulously played by a different personality giving in to a more solid and diverse sound; plus it’s well produced, having clear sound quality, not sounding as if it’s coming out of a pair of cheap factory whizzer cone 6×9 car speakers. A great ‘new classic’ progressive rock album, Ben Craven has firmly planted his flag as a big player in the world of modern melodic art rock.
Added: August 7th 2011
Reviewer: Tommy Hash
Score: 4 stars