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Camel - Moonmadness CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 2151 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Camel Madness

While I'm not used to reviewing a popular *prog* album giving it the same rating as most reviewers give it, but nevertheless I feel I have to give my own opinion about this album since I see a lot of the non-Camel fans that either consider this their only decent effort or, on the contrary, a weak effort compared to Mirage. Being a big fan of Moonmadness, I understand most of these people's opinions and can't denie many aspects that the album is associated with, yet I love it for what it is.

To start with, Moonmadness, but generally Camel overall, were never and will never be considered much of a rockin' Progressive Rock band, if not quite the contrary, a rather melancholic and chilling affair which is quite clear on The Snow Goose. However, with Mirage and, in a lesser extent, their debut showed Camel clearly playing in a pretty heavier way than they're known for, thus prog fans who prefer a more active and instantly memorable Progressive Rock definitely consider any of these two albums their best albums, and by far since The Snow Goose and Moonmadness(their other highly acclaimed albums) tend to delve into the melancholic and jazzier progressive kind of affair, definitely albums that are neither instantly grabbing nor meant to rock out with.

Nonetheless, as a big fan of the four aforementioned albums I've always considered Moonmadness to be their musical peak, in both senses, compositionally and instrumentally. While Moonmadness definitely follows the instrumental and melancholic mood of The Snow Goose, Camel expanded from there and added the rock substance that The Snow Goose, while it's not that it lacked in a negative way, but simply didn't have because it didn't need it. This new rock substance however is not used in the way Mirage used it(for a rawer and energetic sound); Moonmadness fuses this with the melancholic aspects and as a result they created the perfect, matured, balance between the lovely tranquility of The Snow Goose and the edgier Mirage. The perfect example of this is the outstanding performance on Chord Change which changes drastically from the semi-frenetic jazzy-esque intro with Doug and Andy Ward giving a splendid rhythm, to a totally calm and charming atmosphere with Andy's delightful guitar playing and then leaving the spot for the overlooked, great jazzy keyboardist, Peter Bardens to finish this brilliant soulful passage.

Anyways, Lunar Sea and Song Within a Song are also pretty fine examples of the this blend between The Snow Goose's charm and Mirage's more symphonic rock style. However, something I've noticed specifically in these two tunes is the jazz-fusion feel which works as a main feature unlike in the three previous albums which served as an additional feature solely. To enter in more details with these two brilliant tracks, Lunar Sea is undoubtly the epitome of Camel in the instrumental side of things: it has a one-of-a-kind spacey atmosphere all through the tune in which the rhythm section settles a very addictive pattern in which at first Andy adds an emotive guitar solo but later on it's the turn of Peter and his mesmerizing synth which takes your mind to a ''lunar sea'', simply gorgeous. After that wonderful experience, Andy reprises but with a more ferocious guitar playing and the rhythm responds the same way. About Song Within a Song, it's a much chilling track full of lush keyboards and some sweet flute work very alike that from The Snow Goose. The few vocals that the song has are drowned with a watery-effect and fits with the song and the album perfectly. The song finishes with a great instrumental passage with Peter's fabulous synth work.

The four remaining tracks are a bunch of pretty good tunes which full-fill the album's mood very well. Air Born and Spirit of the Water belong to the gentle, melancholic and dreamy style of The Snow of Goose, very beautiful. Another Night, on the other hand, is Camel playing the rock style of Free Fall again but without the rawness neither the edge of it, still pretty decent with a rockin' organ solo at the end. Finally, Aristilus is a pompous introduction to Moonmadness played solely by Peter Barden's set of keyboards.

As you have may noticed, my conclusion is definite: this album is essentially Camel's peak; it has the group's whole heart and soul in it and still there's room for their underrated talents at full shape. Surely not one of the best Prog Rock records ever made, but it's still a very unique masterpiece even when it doesn't feature any innovations or lots of complexity: the same goes for Pink Floyd's masterpieces, though you can add the innovation bit to them.

The Quiet One | 5/5 |


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