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Its not everyday you come across an independent release so well assured and quality packed as the debut offering from Australian Ben Craven. Handling ALL instrumentation on this progressive offering which serves up timbres of an updated collection of the finest 70’s prog, Ben Craven has delivered an album that is quite breathtaking.
Home to 9 tracks (and a further 3 single edits), ‘Great & Terrible Potions’ is a corker from start to finish. Reminding me of vintage Pink Floyd fused with a little Genesis and Yes not to mention a smattering of Steve Hackett’s solo works, these compositions also offer a more modern edge thanks to modern production and guitar tones. Fans of more modern prog bands like Kaipa, Transatlantic and Spocks Beard will also be in heaven here.
Tracks like the instrumental ‘Aquamarine’ , the commercial edge of ‘Ready to Lose’ which comes across as a heady mix of Yes and Steely Dan, the Floyd-ish ‘The Conjurer’ (thanks to Gilmour-esque slide parts) whilst the epic 10 minutes of ‘No Specific Harm’ and 9 minutes of the title track are quite superb. The former being an absolute masterpiece leaning to a darker and more eerie tone adding a nice balance of styles whilst the later serves as a great album closer and using themes explored throughout the album to give a good sense of closure. Elsewhere we have a collection of shorter numbers which do a nice job of keeping the album flowing and are all highly listenable.
Distinctive artwork by Roger Dean is sure to draw in some fans on visuals along, but the music is as visually rich and with a decent set of headphones on will transport you far away.
A one man musical revelation, Ben Craven is certainly a name to look out for and it’s a wonder no label has snapped this release up, maybe someone will for his next adventure which I thoroughly look forward to.
Prog fans order this asap.
Rating – 92%