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Camel - Mirage CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.42 | 3082 ratings

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Luke. J
5 stars It is a common case that bands who produce a good debut album, fail in writing a successor of approximate quality. Camel however managed this difficult step with a more than equal album, creating one of the classics of progressive rock music that is ''Mirage''. While the first one was more near the Canterbury sound, here we have some more classic prog rock oriented album with romantic and jazzy touches. Those fit well in the highly melodic songs of the album. In opposite to other greats of the time (ELP, Yes) Camel do not lose themselves in demonstrations of their virtuosity. Though the music is mostly instrumental and complex in playing, it never goes over board. The vocals are more secondary and according to this very hold-back. Their occasional use is not a demonstration of singing abilities, but a small annex to the instrumental work. All instrumentalists play in a way that it seems like any note is placed exactly where it should be, it all works together as a harmonic whole. So, let's have a closer look at the songs..

''Freefall'' opens the album as the first highlight to be found here. The very upbeat playing and funny vocals make this stand out from the rest. Especially the drum playing is powerful, while the guitar leads the song. In the instrumental part, we have interesting soloing of both guitar and organ, until it leads back into the vocal melodies. The song went a circle, as it ends with a build-up of its intro. ''Supertwister'' is a more relaxed instrumental tune and has a great focus on Andrew Latimer's flute playing. This piece flows nicely, especially in the middle-section. It leads over to another highlight of the album, the epic ''Nimrodel'', which is maybe my favourite Camel track ever. Introduced by synthesizer sounds, it soon goes over into a march-like rhythm. The flute adds the melody. This also solves into the main theme, a really beautiful little melody which, I promise, will stay in your ears for a long time. The laid-back vocals add a mysterious atmosphere in the first part, are more story-telling than singing. In the instrumental section, there is a change in leading role of guitar, organ and flute. The break brings us back to the mysterious mood with acoustic guitars and vocals. As a whole, ''Nimrodel'' is a fascinating track with a lot of feeling. ''Earthrise'' is another short instrumental song in the vein of ''Supertwister'', just that the flute is not the leading instrument but the guitar and also the keyboards. While it begins quiet it ends in a more furious way concerning tempo and guitar work. The closer is the next standout after ''Nimrodel'' (not that the other songs are bad, but those two clearly stand out). With organ sounds and guitar melodies begins ''Lady Fantasy''. The vocals add a certain atmosphere to the highly melodic background music. After that, there is again is the guitar-lead instrumental part, which sets another mood, as it is comparatively wild on this album with shrieking guitar. Another break makes this flow into a recital of earlier themes, a method used frequently to signalize the end of an album. The following part again features vocals and the most-quoted lyrical part of Camel's discography. The sound becomes more rocking after this, loud guitar leads this song up to the end. Similar to ''Freefall'' it circulates to end with a build-up of the intro. A big point on this song goes to the dreamy lyrics to an unreachable love, which are on the one hand beautiful, on the other irritating with sentences like ''Saw you sitting on a sun beam''.

The central points of this album are clearly the two epic tracks, the ''Nimrodel''-suite and ''Lady Fantasy''. The two shorter instrumental songs unfortunately pale in comparison to the rest. While they are more than good tracks of high quality, there is just better material to be found on this record. Though it becomes easy to overlook them this way, they deserve mention as classic Camel songs. It all is solid crafted music with catchy melodies and the demanding complexity of progressive rock. Due to this qualities, this is an ideal album for people who want to get an enjoyable impression of the genre yet also for the experienced fan who gets an ideal record to relax that certainly will not bore the demanding ears.

In conclusion, ''Mirage'' is an absolutely essential albums. It is not one of the albums that hitd you in the face with overwhelming opulence of sounds but shows its quality in the subtle melodies. Those are maybe the most beautiful I have ever heard combined with the instrumental capability shown on the album It clearly deserves a full five star rating, for it is a masterpiece of progressive music, though it may be not everybody's cup of tea for the subtle beauty in spite of over-evident virtuosity. Here we have a band which does not have anything to prove on their instruments, as the songwriting speaks for itself. Five stars to a deservedly classic of progressive rock.

Luke. J | 5/5 |


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