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Camel - Moonmadness CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.38 | 2150 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars September 12, 2005

After the beautiful, but somewhat dull instrumental album THE SNOW GOOSE (1975), Camel returned with one of their best albums, the striking MOONMADNESS (1976). The album is a loose concept album, based around the moon, and the diverging personalities of each band member. (eg. "Lunar Sea" = Keyboardist Peter Bardens). The concept is rather weak, due to the mainly instrumental compositions and the weak vocals. While personally I feel Andy Latimer's suit the music perfectly, adding a light, ethereal quality that strong vocals (a la John Wetton for example) would ruin. This music is drifiting and beautiful, and Latimer's voice is pleasant enough. The album has shimmering layers of very modern sounding keyboards as well as Latimer's ever present flute, and trademark smooth, liquid guitar, which lends the album its melting soundscapes. It is easy to loose ones' self in the shifting textures of the album, but it remains structured enough to remain quite engaging as well.

The album kicks off with the short, punchy instrumental "Aristillus", a composition based around concise, electric synthesizers. This piece, in its two minutes, manages to have more punch than much of the SNOW GOOSE album. "Song Within a Song" is a very good (typical) Camel song, in which there is a nice meeting of electric guitars, synths, and delicate flute work. The song has a brief vocal section in the middle, before giving way to an excellent instrumental section at end in which Barden's Synths are especially impressive. Camel have often been accused of sounding too much like Pink Floyd. This criticism is understandable, especially on this spacey album, but imagine this as Pink Floyd with much more solid melodies and a much faster tempo. These compositions move pretty quickly for such spacey material. "Chord Change" is a rather unstructured instrumental, where one could say spacey-symphonic meets jazz- fusion. It is an excellent, paced track in which every instrument is excellent. "Spirit of the Water" is probably the prettiest piece on the album, a song built on piano and synthesizers, in which Latimer's distant vocals add an eerie feel. The piece is short and stays around just long enough to achieve its goal, but more development would have been welcome. "Another Night" is probably the most typical rock song on the album with its insistent riff, and some of Latimer's strongest vocals. The piece, like all Camel tracks, does leave considerable time for instrumental development. Despite the strong melody, this is one of the weaker tracks on the album. "Air Born" is a very pleasant track, with lots of flute and acoustic guitar and piano. It is good, but somewhat unremarkable. It does contain an impressive and stately climax towards the end though. "Lunar Sea" is probably the most popular piece off of MOONMADNESS, and is also Camel at its spaciest. While the album mainly showcases Latimer's gorgeous guitar work, this track really is Barden's spot to shine, in which he employs a various number of pretty synthesizers to truly create a magical atmosphere. The song is long, but deserves its length entirely. The synthesized landscapes are always shifting, and like most Camel work, are always melodic and beautiful.

MOONMADNESS is a masterpiece of Progressive Rock. The Instrumentation and is complex yet accessible, due to an abundance of pretty melodies sewn into the fabric of the album. Recommended to any fans of spacier rock (a la Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream) who want more of a base for their music, and a must for all symphonic fans. MOONMADNESS, along with 1974's MIRAGE represent the peak of Camel's powers, and this album is easily the more cohesive of the two. 5 STARS.

NetsNJFan | 5/5 |


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