Release Date: May 6th, 2022
Label: Self-released, available as a digital download from Bandcamp
Ben Craven is an Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist who first came to the music world's attention with the release in 2005 of the debut, Two False Idols. This was very much a "solo" work by a musician who had tired of the "group approach". This initial release was issued under Tunisia, but subsequent releases carried the Ben Craven name.
These further releases were Great and Terrible Potions (2011), Dissected (By Ben Craven and The Section 2014), Last Chance To Hear (2016), and, the album under review Monsters From The Id (2022).
I had been aware of the music of Ben Craven from the time of the release of album no 2, and featured tracks from both the two early albums, and then album no 3, on my radio show, but somehow missed out on the fourth release. When Monsters of the Id appeared for review, I was intrigued to see where Ben had gone musically since 2014.
I will say that I did not get past the first track for over an hour, as it was listened to three times before continuing. Occasionally, you come across an album that blows you away from the start, and this is one of those albums, as far as I am concerned. While listening to the rest of the album and working towards writing this review, I was aware of other reviews extolling the virtues of this Ben Craven release. Still, I can summarize the rest of my review very simply. Monsters Of The Id is a stunning album, and if you still need to get a copy, you are missing a gem from 2022. This album will feature in my Best Of 2022 radio show early in 2023.
There are two epic-length tracks and four single/radio edit tracks on this album, as it is unlikely that many stations will play either of the two 19+ minute tracks. The opening track on the album, "Die Before You Wake" (19:32), comprises 7 sections, "Sleeping Spectre", "Ancient Majesty", "Die Before You Wake Pt 1", "Warming Glow", "Wicked Delights", "Die Before You Wake Pt 2" and "Endless Night", suggesting that there are 7 thematic areas within the 19+ min. The opening sequence is designed to grab your ears from the off, with an insistent thumping beat and a choir building the tension, before it drops into a quiet short section and then returns to the starting sequence with the guitar heralding in the section called "Ancient Majesty." Although the notes supplied suggest an instrumental album, the dulcet tones of Ben adorn the "Die before You Wake Pt 1" with the sound slowly building, including the appearance of a gothic-style choir behind the voice. As the music moves into section 4, there is some lovely guitar work as the track evolves into a more spacey atmospheric soundscape with some acoustic guitar and piano coming more to the fore. There is another guitar-led section, backed by the piano and joined by a synthesizer. The guitar then takes the theme on to section 5, an orchestral sequence that evolves into the second part of the "Die Before You Wake" section with the return of Ben's voice. A guitar and synthesizer section then takes the track into the final sequence, which returns to the more open, spacey, Floydian area and towards the return of the gothic-style choir, which takes the track out.
The instruction at this point would be to listen to the opening track again before proceeding with the album. Take another 19+ minutes to let the majestic opening track sink in.
Having done that, move to track 2, "Amnis Flows Aeternum" (19:11), and prepare to be blown away again.
I had liked the earlier material by Ben, but to be honest, nothing prepared me for the sheer excellence of Monsters From The Id. This is an album that grabs your attention from the opening few seconds and takes you on a fantastic journey. If you have not heard this album, do so as soon as possible and be prepared to add it to your collection.
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson
Oct 13th, 2022
1. Die Before You Wake (19:32)
2. Amnis Flows Aeternum (19:11)
3. Die Before You Wake (Single Edit 4:47)
4. Wicked Delights (Single Edit 2:40)
5. Guiding Voice (Single Edit 3:31)
6. Amnis Flows Aeternum (Single Edit 4:51)