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Camel - Moonmadness CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 2151 ratings

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3 stars It has taken a few years, but I think I finally appreciate the cold and empty soundscape that Camel has created with Moonmadness. To be honest, there is only one song that continually interests me (Lunar Sea), but every time I go back to this album, I wonder why I don't give it more respect. Also, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading many of the great reviews of this album that point out creative touches that I hadn't noticed, such as the songs loosely being based off of the band members' personalities, as well as numerous astronomical references and tongue-in-cheek jokes (song titles, plays on words, etc).

Moonmadness seems to start quite slowly, which may be why I often have trouble getting into it. The march-like instrumental opener, Aristillus, sounds a bit dated, and the proceeding Song Within a Song begins quite slowly (and boring), with some very poorly enunciated vocals (typical of Camel). But then there is a gorgeous crescendo, the tempo picks up, and the rest of the album (save the short Spirit of the Water) is very high quality.

On this album, you can't help but appreciate Camel's talent, in songwriting and playing. They are very tight together, and their transitions between tempos are about as effective as you will find, as is their use of dynamics. The problem is the vocals--they certainly are wise not to give up on them completely, but they range from average at best to terrible. This is actually a criticism I have of many Canterbury bands--if they just would have found better vocalists, the music would have that extra needed dimension. That being said, when Camel set to playing they are terrific, from the mellow shimmering organ and guitar section of Chord Change to the ominous, heavy chords of Another Night, to the spacey, distorted guitar of Air Born. Of course, the highlight is Lunar Sea, which features the perfect balance of mellow and fast sections, dreamy synths and impeccable guitar. This is certainly the best Camel piece I have heard, and it really fits with the moon-related theme of the album.

Dark Side will always be my favorite lunar album, for obvious reasons, but Moonmadness probably comes in second (though I'm not sure what other competition there might be!). Camel provide series of full, enjoyable, and expertly crafted songs with Moonmadness, and as long as you can appreciate the mellow and melodious side of prog, you should have this album.

Flucktrot | 3/5 |


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