Monsters from the Id by Ben CravenRelease date: May 6, 2022
Label: Desert Comb Music
There is something sinister on the distant planet Altair IV where the starship C-57D arrives to find out an expedition has been sent many years ago. When they arrived, they notice something’s afoot. For Ben Craven, he takes it a step further paying homage to the 1956 film and goes beyond the cinematic experience on his fifth studio album, Monsters from the Id.
Taken its name from the climatic scene in the sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, Ben Craven’s opus is an operatic story told in two parallel universes. Symphonic textures, long journey home, and instrumental forms, Craven doesn’t pull any punches to go beyond what Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Roddenberry, and Julian Jay Savarin were doing.
Opener ‘Die Before You Wake’ starts off with an alarming militant introduction in the forms of Rimsky-Korsakov as the strings, guitars, and drums set up the ammunition and preparing themselves for battle. Then it changes into this Danny Elfman-sque wintery effect for a couple of seconds before the war begins with a metallic crunch as Ben leads the troops into the battlefield.
Ben describes the turmoil that’s happening on our home planet. And the images aren’t pretty as they seem. He is hammering it down the descriptions by speaking through an intercom before floating through the heavenly skies like an angel spreading his wings to fly and never falling down.
When I listen to the midsection, I don’t think of Yes, but elements of Transatlantic, Triumvirat, Greenslade, and Neal Morse’s arrangements by going for another round channeling Electric Light Orchestra’s Out of the Blue-era. Craven reveals his inner side of Jeff Lynne’s arrangements in the composition. Not just to tip his hat, but showing how much his music had a huge impact on him when he was very young.
The synthesisers are setting up this under watery effect to make Ben’s guitar howl like a coyote nonstop before coming back to reality and going out in a blaze of glory. The forces of good and evil have become this thundering sequence that has angelic choirs, climatic drum exercises, and tidal waving synths ready to flood the town as the aftermath reveals the monsters that have damaged the entire city in a bloody aftermath and how the citizens can come back in the next chapter of their lives.
‘Amnis Flows Aeternum’ starts with a mournful Libert-sque flamenco introduction as the mood changes into an Italian psychedelic late ‘60s vibe from the guitar’s reverbing effects. There are stronger vibes of the Tim Burton-era of Batman flowing in the dystopian worlds of Gotham City that has now become even more decay.
Ben hits those notes by making the instruments transform into this massive race with unexpected twists and turns to make those time changes go bat-shit crazy! You can tell Craven not only studies Elfman’s arrangements, but Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ as well.
You feel the struggle of Bruce Wayne trying to live that double life between as a billionaire and the caped crusader himself. And living that life can come at a heavy price while Ben sets up the mysterious question and answer tone he creates in this merry-go-round section that never stops until the last six minutes of the piece as the puzzle gets even tighter for the dark knight.
The last six minutes are a sense of finding light at the end of the tunnel where Ben gives Batman a hand to let him know that there’s a lot of good of what he’s done. No matter what Bruce went through, Gotham needs his help, no matter what.
Monsters from the Id is Ben’s imaginative sci-fi opera that has been brought to life on the big screen in IMAX form. It would have given the Marvel Cinematic Universe a big run for their own money. Australia has got an amazing power that has taken the genre over massive landscapes and horizon-sque stories that are waiting to be told.