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Camel - The Snow Goose CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.30 | 2191 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4 - 4.25 stars

A concept album is a challenging task. An instrumental concept album following a storyline? Even more so. Given that this album is a clear success, it is proof of Camel's continuing maturity in songwriting.

While the 'sound' of the music is not so far from their previous work thanks to similar '70s' synthesizers and guitar tones, the band for the most part let go of the passionate classic rock roots, settling for a more elegant, whimsical venture into progressive rock as well as classical music. The instrumentation is very colorful and visual, highly essential to the concept.

An orchestra makes an entrance after a minute of peaceful and desolate keyboard textures. The next two tracks relating to Rhayader have some hints of their classic rock sound, particularly the heavier 'Rhayader Goes to Town' with an extended bluesy solo reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Also, 'Rhayader' carries a memorable flute melody and a distorted organ solo.

Afterwards, the brief classical guitar piece 'Sanctuary' is a huge departure from earlier sounds while 'Fritha' is a 'cute', child-like synthesizer piece. The progression from the previous albums is huge. 'Friendship' take it a step further but I find it too 'Disney-like' with corny bassoons and clarinets making the main theme too goofy despite the strength of the melody. It alternates with a gorgeous classical melody but the damage is already done. Luckily, the sad and emotional title track has very nice guitar melodies while the jazzy 'Migration' is uplifting and full of spirit: the scatting melodies are very very catchy. Of course, the happiness turns sour as the goose flies away, Fritha leaves, and Rhayader is left alone.

The second half begins with another uplifting fast-paced song, 'Flight of the Snowgoose', this one is more typical progressive rock with plenty of moog synthesizers. The protagonist finds a new purpose and prepares to sail to his heroic sacrifice during wartime, beginning with a melody from 'Friendship' that works better here. A hypnotic synthesizer loop, wordless female vocals (among other elements) create a crushingly depressing and unique electronica piece that is absolute genius. The war song 'Dunkirk' follows and is appropriately 'war-like' with an intimidating crescendo leading to a fast paced section with a shrieking guitar solo. Given that it follows the genius of 'Preparation', I find it a bit underwhelming and dated but it serves its purpose as the album's climax. Protagonist dies, more depressing electronica music. A lonely piano piece about Fritha being alone. You probably shouldn't listen to this if you're having a bad day.

Luckily, the darkness is cleared away by the snow goose, bringing the album to a close with a longer progressive-rock track that reprises various themes with a positive vibe, symbolizing the spirit of Rhayader passing to the snow goose. The album closes with the same sounds as in the introduction.

5 star parts: Migration, Preparation

4.5 star parts: Rhayader Goes to Town, Fritha, Epitaph

4 star parts: The Great Marsh, Rhayader, The Snow Goose, Rhayader Alone, Flight of the Snow Goose, Fritha Alone, La Princesse Perdue, The great marsh 2

3.5 star parts: Sanctuary, Dunkirk

2 star parts: Friendship

Zitro | 4/5 |


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