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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2441 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Camel was one of those bands, along with Gentle Giant and Van der Graaf Generator, that seemed like classic prog bands worthy of getting into. But, like the other two, it took me a few listens of samples before I found a song that really captured my musical taste. After purchasing and quite liking "Moonmadness", I left Camel alone for a while. Then one day I saw a song off their debut included in a heavy rock of the early seventies playlist on YouTube and I thought I might want to check out their older material. That brought me to "Mirage", and while it may not have anything that qualifies as true early seventies heavy rock, it is quite an impressive album.

It opens with the very exciting, at times tension-filled rocker, "Freefall". Organ and guitar solos, rhythm changes, light and hard passages. A surprise after the softer "Moonmadness".

"Supertwister" begins with a slow flute-led intro and soon changes to an up-beat, odd time signature piece with Camel showing off their ability to play interesting instrumentals with many rhythm and melody changes. The flute takes the lead throughout this slightly jazz- influenced number.

"Nimrodel / The Procession / The White Rider" is about Gandalf of Tolkien's books. After a kind of spacey intro we here horns and fanfare, cheering. Then the main song commences, slow and mellow with Mellotron, a hint of Renaissance melody, and flute before the song abruptly changes gears for a snarling organ solo followed by synthesizer, and then guitar brings the instrumental segment home and with a cymbal crash we return to the main song once more. The conclusion is an exciting cosmic instrumental with an eerie, forbidding baseline, delayed guitar effects and an intense guitar solo with equally intense drumming. This is my favourite part of the whole album.

"Earthrise", is introduced with tinkling percussion and a haunting wind, soon joined by guitar and organ. Presently, the music picks up pace and establishes itself as what is now to be understood as the signature sound of classic Camel. A well-composed and executed instrumental with many changes in tempo, time signature, and melody. And just listen to that high-speed bass playing during the main solo sequence. Great progressive rock from the seventies!

The last track already and over 12 minutes, "Lady Fantasy: Encounter / Smiles for You / Lady Fantasy" begins with an almost heavy metal intro. Exchange the keyboard notes for electric guitar and you'd be in proto-metal territory. No worries if that's not your bag. The main song comes in nice and mellow but not really slow and features a scratchy, psychedelic guitar solo with some wonderful backing music on organ, bass, and drums. Then, true to every track on the album so far, we change gears and go to an almost funky, up beat instrumental bit for electric guitar. Camel exhibit a wonderful knack for combining psychedelic rock with jazz and funk. But before I can even finish typing that thought, we are back to the slower main melody and a keyboard solo, then wind down gently with electric guitar.

I guess this is where the final Lady Fantasy part begins because a new melody is introduced with soft electric guitar, acoustic picking, and another haunting keyboard theme. "Saw you riding on a moon cloud / Saw you walking on a whirlpool" when the words "My Lady Fantasy, I love you," are proclaimed the musicians, almost restlessly, stir back into a furious rocker for the organ instrumental, and once again flip the switch for the closing of the song and take us out with the slower main guitar melody.

I simply cannot find fault with this album, unless someone wants to nitpick about the lyrics. I don't. The music is simply fantastic. It's not just blazing instrumentals but abrupt and often unanticipated changes, beautiful melodies contrasted by intense instrumental workouts, jazz-flavoured moments in one track and vivaciously kicking psychedelic guitar in another. I don't expect to find a Camel album as enjoyable as Mirage, though "The Snow Goose" just arrived in the mail today, so we'll see about that one. A firm five stars for "Mirage".

FragileKings | 5/5 |

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