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Old 07-12-2016, 03:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
JGuy Grungeman
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Join Date: Apr 2014
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Default Camel - Moonmadness

Camel's Moonmadness almost reaches the same creative level as Mirage. But that creativity doesn't have the same flow or aura. It's a great album, nonetheless, and an essential to the prog catalogue.

Upon the first note, I felt Moonmadness's extremely appealing and seriously fun keyboards and flute hit me like a boxing glove in "Aristillus." That track alone is enough for a perfect 100. But that wouldn't be fair to the rest of the album. The second track, “Song Within a Song,” has a more poetic usage of the flutes and keyboards. The song had the same relaxation level as top notch smooth jazz, something I greatly enjoy. The vocals were haunting and mesmerizing at the same time, like a Gothic painting. But what really mesmerized me was how Latimer played that flute like a saxophone. But in the last two minutes, the song changes pace entirely, which didn't help the song. Next was “Chord Change,” which transitioned fairly well. It's an instrumental, a good one but not a great one. It has great moments, usually the more upbeat moments. “Spirit of the Water” starts out more symphonic and poetic, like a medieval legend. The vocals are well drowned in a lake of echoes, creating a serene atmosphere.

Next comes “Another Night.” “Another Night” starts the second half with a thought provoking, heavily riffed guitar like a techno-album intro. I think of Metroid Prime 2. Soon, the guitar is joined by drums. And together, they create the beginning of yet another prog epic. In this track, I occasionally hear some similarities to old Prog band Pink Floyd, carrying drowned sounds and vocals. And while the song keeps complexity, it reminds me of something I read today concerning Pink Floyd and their connection to prog. As progressive rock is meant to “experiment” and “transcend the genre,” that's enough for me to call them prog. Somehow, Camel copying their sound ensured it for me because they both transcended rock in that sense. So, I'm actually really glad I played this album after reading that comment on Floyd from Yahoo. The song pretty much describes everything that prog is about. Shifting in pace while maintaining a flow, transcending the genre, mentality, and occasional complexity. We go back to symphonic instrumental poetry with a flute technique akin to a Mozart opera or an Irish myth. This is “Air Born.” It's a little drowned by its length, but it's still enjoyable. “Lunar Sea” ends the album with an amalgam of ambient walls of sound. The band uses excellent timing and imagination to create the wall of sound known as “Lunar Sea.” Eventually, it turns into another hyperactive prog epic with loud guitars and a lot of drumming.

The album doesn't transition very well (believe it or not, transition is also a verb). It seems like the flow of the album occasionally gets disturbed in place of a new sound or song. The songs are still usually top-notch, but it's a disturbance in the aura. Still, a lot of moments in the album are great and catchy, and the great production is only a taste of its creative potential.

Overall, I think Camel may be one of the best bands in the world, based on Mirage and this. Moonmadness (with a title reminding me of DSOTM being about moonsa dn madness) is something I might come back to often.

91/100.
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