Originally published in Highlands Magazine.
English translation by Google:
The talented Australian multiinstrumentist Ben CRAVEN is back, after his previous work, the acclaimed GREAT & TERRIBLE POTIONS released in 2011. What strikes at first glance is the quality of the visual, realized by Roger DEAN, right line of his previous album.
For music, it is a progressive instrumental symphony with textures rather dynamic and contrasted. A few vocal parts are attributed to William SHATNER.
This album conceals all the qualities of an excellent studio realization, with a beautiful science of the arrangement of sounds, the sequence of compositions,
The instrumental balance.
It also reveals all the limits: a real entity of several musicians would undoubtedly have contributed to create a more warm music (perceptible on the level of the programmed battery in particular, and sequencers).
However, a real melodic freshness emanates from this realization, which can be compared to the achievements of Mike OLDFIELD (first period) and even more to the first GANDALF, with this mixture of symphonism and electronics, this talent to create long symphonic frescos Labyrinthines driven by a fluid guitar and a set of orchestral keyboards (Critical Mass, Part 1 & 2 and Spy In The Sky Part 2 & 3).
Strangely located after, Spy In The Sky Part 1 is located in a floyd movement marked by a guitar inherited from David GILMOUR, delivering a chorus with blues consonance while the accompanying piano evokes the Rick WRIGHT of the golden age . At this point, the best CD title.
A sudden bout of fever agitated Revenge Of Dr. Komodo, initially scented
Yessiennes, evolving then towards a kind of rock boogie with scents
Jazzy, Hammond organ forward on a very removed tempo. Diverting but without excessive originality. Last Chance To Hear Part 2, introduced to acoustic guitar and piano, enhanced with giormour guitar iennecamélienne is much more interesting, conveying a wonderful translucent guitar chorus that stretches and perpetuates. One floats again in full floydian waters before insensibly the piece evolves towards a more contemporary progressiverock, not very far from DJAM KARET for example.
Mortal Remains introduced to the acoustic piano confers a peace, a harmony welcome after effervescent instrumental flights. An instrumental part with classical scents, soon enhanced with acoustic guitar embroideries takes us to another place for a moment of peace and serenity. This title with the inspiration inhabited ideally concludes a album quite contrast in the end, compared to the initial idea that can be made at the beginning of listening.
Consequently, several successive auditions are recommended before the album reveals all its flavors. On arrival we get a successful album, by inspired place, which without being at an exceptional level, has its moments.
(*** ½) Didier GONZALEZ