Avant-garde artist Benton Oliver, working under project moniker Creature Benny, presents Creature Benny’s Tales Moste Wretched, Vol. 2 – a collection of five previous EPs with additional tracks to truly flesh out this raw, expressive, punk-leaning work. But don’t let the “raw” or “punk” labels fool you – while this music seems unfiltered, bereft of a pristine production sheen, and at times, amateurish (by Oliver’s own admission), Oliver will, on occasion, bring in a few more styles and melodic meditations to get his very direct musical intentions across. Let’s tackle the highlights and determine if Creature Benny’s Tales Moste Wretched, Vol. 2 is, in fact, a successful experiment, or something that failed to divide fast enough in a petri dish held over fire.
To understand Benny’s occasional stylistic fluidity, let’s take a look at tracks one and two – “MOSTE WRETCHED INTRO II” and “DOUBLE-EDGED ED” (and yes, all the song titles are uppercase on SoundCloud, because like the music, they’re yelling to get your attention). Track one is a saloon-sounding piano accompanied by acoustic (thank goodness) drums, a digital chorus, and then collapsing demonic growling. Track two is a little punk, a little thrash, and with vocals that are sort of sung, but mostly spoken/yelled. So, there’s a bold adaptability here, or just an urge to do whatever suits him. And here’s more of whatever suits him:
Track #9, “CROOKED MAN” (and yes, we’re bouncing around here, but there’s a veritable bounty of music to choose from) is slowly born from a cavernous void before slapping the floor with sludgy, sliding chords and echoing human screeches. It’s something that, after birth, skitters forward with soggy, growling guitars perhaps recorded in a muddy kiddie pool.
THE DEVIL’S DEAL starts with a nearly out of tune acoustic guitar given a mild, wavering distortion as if played through a perilously tipping record player. And then it gains dirty, chaotic momentum, transitions back to the acoustic, and revisits its rusty, mechanical mayhem. Very interesting track.
“MOSTE WRETCHED INTERLUDE II.I” revisits that discarded acoustic guitar (see above) as it accompanies some gloriously fuzzy bass. There are a lot of nimble changes here that wade into Progressive Rock territory (and especially those spinning, dramatic Mellotron-ish strings). Great stuff for someone who LOVES the Mellotron (including not-as-awesome-but-not-terrible Mellotron-mimicking software).
“LIFE IS SICK (COO COO KA-CHOO)” is a pared down production featuring vocals and piano; it’s a welcome respite as the entreating voice isn’t competing with that always pervasive cone of sludge.
And the finale, “CITY OF BONES (EXOTIC PETS [BONUS TRACK])” is a distorted, Ramones-ish rocker that takes itself seriously… without taking itself seriously – because, regardless of subject matter, it’s always fun to rock the (*bleep!*) out. And when the song ends, the recording continues with musicians chatting, laughing, and celebrating.
But….is it good?
Yes, it’s definitely good. But, I would consider it more of an experience. There’s a real rock and roll spirit wrapped in all that fuzz-laden muck. The energy transfers through, and the dynamic musical palette is strived for, and often achieved. Or, in other words, Creature Benny’s latest experiment is indeed a success, and it survived every aching facet of its screaming evolution.
BELOW: Listen to Creature Benny’s Tales Moste Wretched, Volume 2, and check Creature Benny out on SoundCloud and Instagram. Please support Creature Benny by playing, downloading, and/or purchasing his music. And, as always, thank you for supporting real music.