Desert Comb 2022
The subconscious as a vantage point of observing macrocosm: Australian art-rocker anchors Freudian notions and turns the primitive into matter of substance.
When, back in 2018, this musician issued a roundup of his best tracks’ shortened versions, it looked like the Oz polymath was taking a stock of own’s oeuvre, yet four years down the line Ben Craven proves he, in fact, was sculpting a cornerstone for the grandeur of the follow-up to "Last Chance To Hear" from 2016. Consisting of only two nigh on twenty-minute-long, many-segment epics, the Brisbane master’s fourth album is as accessible as any single, and wile its tagline “monsters from the id remind us in our heart we entrust” may seem banal in its banishing the cerebral in favor of emotional, it can also serve as a future rule for progressive rock tropes’ success.
More so, that’s easy to sample “Monsters From The Id” and catch a clear idea about what’s this all about and the gist of melodic narrative, because, added here as bonuses are edits of the album’s four key points. Still, even though these cuts, especially the vocal-focused and orchestra-centric essence of its numbers, will be perfect for radio play and “Guiding Voice” will offer a fresh experience, presenting a tune stitched from a tripartite piece scattered across the record’s second half, they feel fuller when perceived in the entire platter’s context. Its flow is crucial, allowing the listener to get pulled into the gradual building of tension in “Die Before You Wake” whose belligerent stomp and anxious swirl unfurl a strings-swept panorama in which a multitude of voices emerges out of nowhere to gel into an oratorio and ebb away, leaving a fairy tale landscape bare before a guitar-led storm of great beauty and vulnerable before the song per se – until a few psychedelic passages open a portal to celestial pleasures of electric kind.
With every dynamic detail and monumental movement, from piano ripple and slider roll to bass rumble and the thunder of drums, performed solely by Ben, an art demiurge dead set on captivating his audience, there’s a lot to enjoy and pore over. And if “Amnis Flows Aeternum” is prone to paling in comparison with the album’s beginning, the composition’s acoustic lace, muscular twang and nervous groove are exquisitely fascinating in their glide towards the unknown of human mind. However, the drama that synthesizers shape has plenty of nuances to its sonic plateaus, and the power metal figures which lurk there appear leveled by the surface finesse and theatrical intrigue. And when the various strands interweave for the record’s finale, a sense of total immersion in one’s soul starts to reign, prompting the now-initiated to start the cycle all over again.
It’s worth it to meet your monsters – surrounding you on a bonus DVD with 5.1 mix and videos – with cathartic results.