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Camel - I Can See Your House From Here CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

2.87 | 619 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the uneven "Breathless", which was the last Camel effort with Bardens on board, things got a bit better with the "I Can See Your House from Here" album. All in all, the final result didn't really get to the "excellent" spot, but it was just more than just good: very good, uneven still, and that is a relative shame, since the addition of two keyboardists such as Tom Schelhaas and Kit Watkins guaranteed a strong melodic presence in the material's arrangements. Andy Ward has begun to pursue a more concise swing, focusing on a rockier framework and letting go of the dominantly jazz-oriented grove that he had enthusiastically explored since the "Moon Madness" days. This makes sense with the sort of fluid dynamics that another newcomer, Colin Bass, brought to the electric bass. The album kicks off fine, with an example of catchy symphonic rock entitled 'Wait': this song's pop-friendly melodic development doesn't kill the power delivered on the alternating duels of Schelhaas and Watkins' Moog solos in the interlude and on Latimer's closing lead guitar. This one's better than most explicitly pleasant songs recorded by Yes or Genesis in the late 70s. but 'Your Love is Stranger than Mine' is not. This song succeeds at emulating the most trivial moments of the "Breathless" album, which in itself means an artistic misplacement. With a stronger set of arrangements and a fully instrumental development, this might as well been an effective prog piece with a lovely touch of lightness (a-la Sky, for instance). But no, arrangements had to be predictable and it had to bear trivial lyrics. The worst case scenario would have been an attempt to do techno-pop including vocoder. Wait! There is some of that in the album, as well! 'Remote Romance' is the name of this sort of pop-friendly atrocity: Watkins co-authored this song, so it's not Latimer's fault entirely. I won't comment on this one any further, but rather focus on the Watkins-penned instrumental 'Eye of the Storm'. Originally conceived as part of the third studio album that Happy the Man didn't manage to release at the time, this majestic exercise on ethereal moods does capture the freshness and inventiveness that the newcomers were capable of bringing on for the reshaping that Camel needed. Compared to the original version (resurfaced on the CD edition of HTM's "3rd"), this Camel rendition fulfills a more pompous atmosphere and displays a more compact rhythmic structure. 'Who We Are' is a delicious albeit not impressively brilliant mini-epic that finds the band attempting to bring a modern air to its symphonic core, succeeding partially at it. The orchestral coda 'Survival' kind of completes the atmosphere. I happen to enjoy 'Neon Lights' more than other reviewers apparently do: it's a fine up-tempo song with a slight connection to melodic hard rock in its main body and an eerie utilization of multiple keyboards in its interlude. I'm saving the album's two gems for last. 'Hymn to Her' is one of the loveliest Camel ballads ever: it kind of combines the evocative side of 'Air Born' and the romantic vibe 'The Snow Goose'. Watkins shines on brightly in the dynamic jazzed up interlude at doubling Latimer's soloing, and the introductory theme is simply priceless. The 10+ minute instrumental 'Ice' is the icing of this partially convincing cake (well, the icing is more convincing than the cake as a whole). The slow basic 3/4 motif (with inserted 5/4 breaks along the way) conveys a dreamy mood through its various sonorities, be it with the full band or guitar/piano soliloquies. The use of keyboard layers serves as a perfect bridge between the underlying keyboard harmonies and Latimer's emotionally charged leads. This track asks for an intimate climax, and so it happens. This sort of inspired conception and the sort of melodic elegance as comprised in 'Hymn to Her' and 'Eye of the Storm' are what this album should have been full of. Since it isn't, I rate "I Can See Your House from Here" with a 3.40 star grade.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |


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