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Bellaphon - Firefly CD (album) cover





3.74 | 39 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars A great CAMEL album not played nor composed by CAMEL. Being derivative is often seen as a limit, but when things are well done it's not really bad. Just listen to "Jade", the opening track. It could be on any Camel album of the Bardens era.

I mention Bardens because the band is more keyboard than guitar oriented, and this is the principal difference. Years ago I rated their second album quite low because of the poor sound quality as some tracks were recorded live probably with non-professional equipment.

This one, instead, is good also from the engineering point of view. The bass playing is more in line with Ferguson than with Sinclair and Bass. Jade is in the "Moonmadness" side of the things.

"Le Petit Prince" is a short slow and melodic instrumental. It may be the track title in French, which reminds to "La Princess Perdue". This track could be one of the interludes in The Snow Goose. Immediately after it fades out, "Mistral" has some mixed influences: the Camel's middle period, from Raind Dances to The Single Factor. Effectively there's a bit of Alan Parsons influence but only in some parts of the track. The central part of the track features a jazzy piano which adds also a touch on newage.

Another French title for a one minute track: "Belle Du Jour". It's a piano solo with a classical flavor. Nice but quite outplaced.

"Vent Du Midi" Brings us back to the Moonmadness/Rain Dances times. I know that speaking of a band while reviewing another looks schizofrenic, but I can't avoid comparing them to their influencers. As it's a track longer than the album's average, there's something more. Not completely derivative I'd say. One thing to remark is the very complicate signatures that some parts of the track have. In the second part of the track there's an excellent guitar driven section. It's apity that they were used to fade the tracks out.

"Evros" is about 9 minutes long as the previous track. What to say? It's very good this too. After a keyboard lead intro repeated twice, the bass starts palying a samba-like base on which the gutar makes an axcellent job, then it goes back to more usual rhythms. Here the bassist seems (to me at least) inspired by the Sinclair's jazzy style.

Tte title track is just 1 minute shorter than "Lady Fantasy" but opens like "Lunar Sea". Effectively after the intro fades out there's an break of Keyboards and guitar thar reminds to the intro of Lady Fantasy, but after having repeated it a couple of times there's room for a very good jazzy gutar solo followed by a keyboards one, while the rhytmic section is in the "Liggin' At Louis" mood. The bad with this track is that it's very discontinuous. A theme stops and another starts. It's more a patchwork of short pieces tied together without using a good glue. All the single parts are very good, but they can't be considered as a single thing. The guitar work is excellent throughout the track, in any case.

Finally a "bonus track" closes the album. On "Labyrynth" the production is clearly not the same. The recording is less professional and it jeopardizes the quality of this last song which is strongly inspired by Camel like the others, with the exception of the central part that it's a very nice jazz piece.

I remember a thread in the PA forum, where somebody was asking for Camel like bands. Well, this is the best one that I've found up to now. I have listened to this album a huge number of times, more than how I've been used to listen to The Single Factor.

Derivative but extremely good, and if you are in abstinence of Camel, this is an excellent surrogate.

octopus-4 | 4/5 |


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