Ray Bennett - Whatever Falls album review

A revival of the former Flash man’s 2001 solo album.

Ray Bennett - Whatever Falls album artwork

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Ray Bennett first made his mark working as bassist alongside original Yes guitarist Peter Banks in soaring early‑70s rockers Flash. Flash disbanded in 1973 and it took until 2001 for Bennett to release a solo album. “I wanted it to be something special,” he said. “It had taken so long. A flop wouldn’t do…” This is no flop, nor is it a vanity project. Here Bennett contributes bass, vocals and much of the other instrumentation. Taking his stride and attitude from the Flash’s eccentric art-rock approach, Bennett builds an affecting album, where the tracks neatly segue into one another, accentuating the thematic feel throughout. Not that Whatever Falls is in any sense conceptual, but there’s certainly a strong feeling that the songs are interrelated, and come from an emotional place. Bennett’s instrumental prowess is obvious on the opening La Verité Des Miracles.

But his vocal style later on is intriguing: distant and a little electronic, giving the music a sci-fi atmosphere and an aloofness that underlines the record’s sense of alienation, which Bennett brings sharply into focus on the title track. This has a haunting, fatalistic morbidity that surely brings some sort of catharsis – least of all for the creator. While so many musicians try to bring emotion to the surface to find a common bond with the listener, what Bennett does so successfully is persuade you to make the effort to delve deep with him and share the whole process. Whatever Falls is more than merely the individual noodlings of a talented musician. It’s a well-planned, thoughtful album that draws from Bennett’s past, but in doing so brings a controlled, focused aptitude into play. This is a restively modern record, and one that should have received a lot more attention when it was first released. He’s waited this long, and worried about being scrutinised, but maybe his time is now.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.