BEN CRAVEN – Last Chance To Hear
Aussie prog maven adds colors to the bleak outlook of today’s world and the soundtrack of its ways. Captain Kirk looks in.
There’s no half-measures for Ben Craven – Freyja and Roger Dean handling the visual detail of his albums may testify to that – so it’s hardly surprising that a follow-up to “Great & Terrible Potions” took the multi-instrumentalist five years to realize. Over this period, the landscape of music business has changed for ever, and not for the best, but while the album’s title and titular composition refer to such a progress, there’s no lamentation on a musical level. Even though blues motifs find their way into the piece’s bravura to fathom the depth of unison, sad notes hardly seep through overall triumphal charge, and if the dewdrop-translucent “Critical Mass” is exploring surface tension before orchestral wave and slide guitar crash the anxious serenity, to see it as a commentary on the current state of affairs would imply limiting one’s imagination.
Likewise, “Spy In The Sky” – split in three parts, the first being the last – may hold a healthy dose of paranoia in its throbbing ambience, yet the melody’s ebb and flow, from a piano ripple to acoustic strum to synthesizers’ swirl, is so full of air that joie de vivre prevails from the beginning, William Shatner’s weighty lines only stressing the lightness of it all. But if the Hammond-heavy “Revenge Of Dr Komodo” turns a James Bond theme into a light entertainment kind of cinematic rage, “The Remarkable Man” dances romantically in penumbra where samba moves support the soaring of stinging guitar. Still, the elegiac “Mortal Remains” could be an epitome of sadness, if not for jazzy fringe of hope giving the “chance” peace of mind because there’s always something new after what we think of as “last”: now hear it.