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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover

MIRAGE

Camel

 

Symphonic Prog

4.40 | 2532 ratings

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Modrigue
Prog Reviewer
4 stars An hallucination? No, a real symphonic prog oasis!

4.5 stars

Second studio album by CAMEL, "Mirage" truly marks the band's entrance into the progressive sphere. Compared to their debut, the compositions are a bit longer and more complex. If the musical style - mainly instrumental symphonic SANTANA-esque hard rock - hasn't changed much, the music is now more melodic and sometimes slow down to offer softer and breathtaking moments. Furthermore, the Minimoog made its first appearance and will become more and more present in the next records. Finally, the sound quality has also improved.

One word on the cover art: as you probably see, it parodies the Camel cigarettes pack, which initially helped the band to become famous. However, it also made then bad publicity, as people thought the musicians were advertising for the well-known smoking brand. Let's now begin our journey.

"Freefall" is a punchy and catchy opener, in the slight jazzy hard rock style of the first opus. In contrast, despite to what its title may suggest, "Supertwister" is delicate and enchanting. A nice invitation to travel to a mysterious land. In addition, Andrew Latimer's flute playing is pretty good. Then comes the best track of the disc, the Lords of the Ring-inspired "Nimrodel / The Procession / White Rider" suite. After a short aquatic overture, you know with the fanfare horns you're in for something special. The next part opens with an aerial majestic music, a genuine little melodic gem! Then, the song alternates alternates violent, calm and even spacey passages with numerous pace changes and various instruments. The haunting ending is also beautiful. Magic!

I do not really enjoy the beginning of the instrumental "Earthrise", but the rest is overall quite good. Despite dated synthesizer sonorities, it contains great soft and fast epic rock moments. The closer "Lady Fantasy" may well be CAMEL's longest composition to date. The track can remind THE DOORS at times, mainly due to the organ interventions. Both gentle and rageous, rock and jazzy, calm and touching, it displays the band's talent and is one of their best mini-epic. The dark ending simply rocks!

Although this album is classified under the "symphonic progressive" genre, The music here isn't at all like YES or GENESIS. Nonetheless, it still transports you to an imaginary world of fantasy, and that's the most important. The record has an overall constant quality, even if there are a few short passages I enjoy less.

With a better unity and musicianship than their self-titled debut, "Mirage" possesses its own identity and magic. Top-notch and accessible jazzy symphonic rock, and undoubtedly CAMEL's summit! A treasure in the desert...

Modrigue | 4/5 |

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