Ben Craven is a cinematic progressive-rock artist from Brisbane, Australia.
He likes to make records.
Immersed as a toddler in the era of big prog rock, Craven taught himself guitar and keyboards and joined a series of bands. None of them made it and none of them remotely played the kind of music that had been burned into his mainframe as a kid.
Nonetheless, the songs he wrote accumulated steadily. In 2005, Craven dispensed entirely with the band approach and recorded his debut album, Two False Idols under the name of Tunisia. The result was a work of incredible maturity, with influences ranging from Pink Floyd and Brian Wilson to the likes of Bernard Herrmann and John Barry.
As Craven worked the album it became painfully obvious that the music business was in the midst of a sea change, and most of the old guard didn’t seem to realise they were the cause. Very quickly he took an anti-DRM stance and released the live acoustic EP Under Deconstruction as a high-quality free download.
Craven stepped up a gear for his sophomore album, Great & Terrible Potions. Delivering on the cinematic promise of Two False Idols, Potions went widescreen as Craven blurred the boundaries between conventional songs and orchestral soundtracks. Augmented by a stunning cover designed by legendary artist Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heep, Asia), Potions was dense, complicated and unashamedly pretentious – everything a good prog rock album should be! Or, to put it another way, Craven sounded exactly like someone revelling in the creative freedom that came only from not worrying about what others wanted, and delivering what he felt instead.
His 2016 album, Last Chance To Hear, was a stunning triumphant musical masterpiece of progressive rock. The grandness of the album suggested it was performed by a five or six-piece band. Craven explained, “In keeping with the idea of the album as an endangered species, the new album’s title is Last Chance To Hear. It’s another solo album in the true sense of the word where I play just about everything, like on Potions. The difference this time is a much greater portion has turned out to be instrumental. Not that I dislike vocals, but sometimes the music can be strong and emotional and moving enough to stand on its own without them.”
There was also a special appearance on the album by legendary Star Trek actor William Shatner, providing spoken-word vocals for the track Spy In The Sky Part 3!
Craven achieved a great accolade in 2016, winning the MusicOz Australian Independent Music Award for Best Instrumental, for the track Critical Mass Part 2.
Monsters From The Id is the logical realisation of Craven’s musical trajectory thus far. It’s an album of two halves, each containing a traditional progressive rock “epic” the length of a side of vinyl. The two pieces comprise flowing parts and movements with both rock and Hans Zimmer-esque orchestral arrangements, punctuated by Ben’s distinctive lead guitar and vocals. Yet the album is predominantly instrumental.
“Lyrics are incredibly important to me,” explains Craven, “but this music was not driven by words or language. It’s pure other-worldly escapism. It’s playing dress-up, wanting to make the world look much bigger than it seems right now, trying to recall the feeling that anything is possible, no matter how unlikely that might be.”
Visually, the album cover is a treat, featuring breathtaking artwork by Freyja Dean adorning the triple gatefold CD/DVD wallet. Sonically, things are equally ambitious. A 5.1 surround mix is included on the DVD, while both stereo and surround versions are available for digital download in 24-bit 96kHz high resolution.
Here’s what the press raved about Ben Craven’s previous release:
“Heavy-duty prog rock monster”
– Anil Prasad, Innerviews
“Cracking virtuoso performance by an absurdly talented individual”
– Classic Rock Society
“Craven’s one-man-band production is a prog opus for the 21st century”
“All the drama, thunder, strum and drang you could want the spiritual grand child of Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson to bring”
– Midwest Record
“Craven’s tremendous ability to combine memorable hooks with complex progressive rock and cinematic orchestral music is astounding”
– Sea Of Tranquility
“Press play and this album does the rest”
“Seriously well-distilled and blended”
– Van Dyke Parks
In closing Ben has this to impart to his fans and listeners, “The music business is becoming an increasingly cynical place. The landscape is dominated by reissues, remixes and repacking of old material in what feels like a ‘last hurrah’. But there are still true believers out there flying under the radar and producing music primarily out of love and obsession. Not because of contractual obligations, deadlines or other market forces. I’d still be making music if the industry was truly dead and buried. But I’d much rather people listened to it!”
ben <at> bencraven.com
Desert Comb Music
PO Box 431
Albany Creek, QLD 4035