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Camel - The Snow Goose CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.29 | 2114 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars This is one of those albums that it is hard to separate personal tastes from a more objective look at the album, but in truth it's not that big of a deal--it turns out that my subjectivity pretty well aligns with the objectivity here. There's plenty of good reason to truly love this album.

Camel has never been a band obsessed with defining their music with vocals and lyrics, that's for certain. Really, in light of their catalog, if they hadn't released something like The Snow Goose, we'd all have been confused. Here, in direct progression from Mirage, the gentle and cheerful songs take precedence over the straighter-edged rock found early on. The flute plays a much more major role in the songs, appearing a good number of them. The album features a lovely flow, with some filler sorts of tracks composed of gentle soundscapes and minimalist repetition, but the end result is quite a lovely excursion into Camel's softer prog side. That is, of course, not to say that there aren't fast guitar licks and powerful solos or furious drumming or Doug's classic bass lines. Rather, they are saved for special moments, turning the album into something of a whimsical yet on the whole exciting piece of classic prog music. The only true downside to this album is that it's not terribly worth it to listen to a single song, and so if you want to pop in a quick Camel tune or two, this album is likely not where you will turn to in the end.

Song by song analysis turns out to be quite difficult for an album like this, so I'll skip most of the shorter ones and focus on the more fully developed pieces. Rhayader showcases the whimsical, upbeat flute work and bass playing that will mark much of the album. Rhayader Goes to Town is a bit harder, a bit more of rocker, marked with blazing keyboards and a long guitar solo in the second half. Migration features one of the only instances of vocals present anywhere on The Snow Goose. They are, of course, wordless, but they are even more cheerful and (I need a new word, but I'm not coming up with one) whimsical than if they had lyrics. Flight of the Snow Goose kicks off the second side, building with a keyboard layer in the background and a very pretty guitar line. The drums sound great for this track, accenting the bouncy sort of bass quite handily. Preparation is a slow, soft tune that builds with nice flute and a creepy vibe to it, accented by some strange wailing over the top. Dunkirk segues perfectly from Preparation, turning into a repeating tune that plays mostly the same lick over and over again, building in intensity and depth every time until about three and a half minutes in, at which point the song turns to a much faster-paced guitar solo vehicle (and interspersed with neat phasered drum spots). Quite a dramatic turn, and very well composed. La Princesse Perdue is the final track proper on the album--followed only by the closing soundscape of The Great Marsh--and it feels like it reprises pieces of other songs off the album, though the accuracy of this I can't quite vouch for. Strings enter for their first truly prominent piece, wrapping this album up with an epic and upbeat blast.

In the end, this album might not sound like your cup of tea. And in truth, it might not be the best place to start with Camel--I'd aver that Mirage better fills that slot. Nonetheless, it is quite the musical morsel, very carefully composed and wonderfully performed. This is what soft progressive music should sound like. A very relaxing or very energizing album at the same time, depending on what you are looking for from it. This versatility (and for some, the lack of Camel's sometimes-considered lacklusted vocals) turn The Snow Goose into Camel's magnum opus, and quite a gem of 70s prog.

LiquidEternity | 5/5 |


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