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2011-09-22 MLWZ / Arthur Chachlowski (Review)

Originally published (in Polish) at

This translation is paraphrased by Google. Hoping to have a better one here soon!

Craven, Ben – Great & Terrible Potions

Author: Arthur Chachlowski
Recorded by one man… We know what often comes of such experiments. But in this case we are dealing with an album that sounds as if it is played by a whole band. I do not know how Ben Craven did it, but guitars, synthesizers and drums here sound very “live” and natural. And that voice. Also of a high standard.

“Performed, produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Ben Craven” – these words from the CD booklet “Great & Terrible Potions” say it all. You could say that we are dealing with the work of one-man orchestra. Except for our hero designing the cover… fortunately he did not. While he is very competent as a vocalist and instrumentalist on the record, he handed the graphic design to a true specialist in this field. And not just anyone, it is none other than Roger Dean himself. The same man who has produced graphics for Yes and a number of related projects in this genre. Characteristic lettering and graphics depicting desert rock in the shape of a comb, leave no doubt that this is the work of Dean. This fact alone gives us sufficient recommendation for the kind of  musician we are dealing with here in Ben Craven.

Who, then, is Craven? He is an Australian musician who has been working in the industry for several years, trying his hand at different bands, but it was his band “Tunisia” and its 2007 album “Two False Idols” which brought him to the attention of the prog rock world. Ben has recently dropped the name “Tunisia” and recorded an album under his own name. An album presented in a very similar style as the aforementioned one. It’s the kind of progressive rock which features beautiful melodies, vast synthesizers soundscapes, lush and melodic guitar solos, and the individual pieces, although they are closely linked with each other a whole, perfectly stand alone and became the appropriate “obrobieniu” prog rock songs zgrabnymi.

Craven is well aware of this, because in addition to the basic album “Great & Terrible Potions”, which consists of nine interconnected themes which form a very cohesive whole, there are three single edits of whole songs. And all of them (“Ready To Lose,” “Nobody Dies Forever”, “No Specific Harm”) are really most charming, warm songs that I think with the right podlansowaniu could conquer the charts.

But let’s get back to the main album. As I said, it is very melodic music. Original and unobvious. This is an album with concept and class. Decorated in a cohesive style, and filled with short (“Diabolique” and two parts “Nobody Dies Forever” being less than 3 minutes) and long (“No Specific Harm” and the title recording are 10-minute compositions) pieces of music, both instrumental themes (“Diabolique”, “Aquamarine”, “The Conjurer”, “Solace”), and recordings in which Craven provides vocals. In this coherent whole are melodic echoes of music in the style of Pink Floyd, Camel, Genesis, Pendragon, Cryptic Vision, Eureka and several other artists you can hear when you listen to this album, close your eyes, and dream and dream and dream…

This is the album. Very melodic, but never banal or obvious. Well played and performed, and at the same tricks unnecessary fatigue-free, noise and sonic chaos. Superbly produced, giving the listener a sense of naturalness and freshness. Nieprzekombinowana. Equipped with a relatively simple, not to say: the simplest means. Thanks to the very nice melodies and arrangements. In a word, as we like, for example, supporters of Alan Parsons’ work, Peter Gee, Frank Bosserta and… Richard Wright. Yes, I think that this (unfortunately) late “landscape painter” of Pink Floyd is definitely an overriding source of musical inspiration for Craven. Evidence of this is the atmosphere on the whole CD, not very far from the memorable Wright album “Wet Dream”, and the simply beautiful composition “The Conjurer” which is dedicated to him, and the two-part piece with the very eloquent title: “Nobody Dies Forever”.

The album “Great & Terrible Potions” places Ben Craven quickly in the top performers who specialize in playing melodic art-rock. Oh the album was as beautiful as possible…