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2016-06-15 – Elmore Magazine (Review)

Originally published:

Ben Craven
Last Chance To Hear
Album Reviews | June 15th, 2016
Artist: Ben Craven
Album: Last Chance To Hear
Label: Tumeleak Records
Release Date: 03/29/2016
Australia’s Ben Craven could be considered a prog wannabe were it not for the fact that all three of his efforts to date reflect some genuine cred. His last album featured a cover created by the iconic artist Roger Dean, and Yes’ newest member in residence Billy Sherwood plays on his latest opus. Still, Craven doesn’t really need their nods to affirm his progressive sensibilities. Last Chance To Hear is a well conceived combination of psychedelic sensibilities and illuminated aural soundscapes, bombast and subtlety applied in equal measure. Mostly instrumental — actor William Shatner makes a typically pompous spoken word cameo on one track, “Spy in the Sky Part Three,” a Moody Blues sounding mock up — Last Chance To Hear is touted by its maker as a song cycle about the impending demise of the album format, although, in fact, it’s hard to discern any real theme in this dense mix. Synths, orchestration and a big beat compete for attention, adding to the overall flow without allowing any one song to singularly stand out. At times, Craven comes close to emanating Yanni, especially on a song like “Spy in the Sky Part Two,” but in truth there’s always been a fine line between prog and pretense. Regardless, it’s all a matter of taste. Overblown to an extent, but well-crafted regardless, Last Chance To Hear takes a few concerted listens mandatory to fully appreciate the album’s overall impact.

-Lee Zimmerman