Music, whether it be classical, mythological, or grunting, has always been used as a herald to tell tales. One could argue that due to the evolution of music each successor improves over the last. Though, once progressive music exploded from nowhere, concept records became “the thing” to release, but as usual the hype made it so that only 1/10 of them were really any good or purposeful. Camel’s The Snow Goose, a record based on the book of the same name, is certainly overlooked, and easily one of the best concept records the genre has ever been graced with. It’s not nearly as complex as prog would imply, however the actual detail is what makes it what it is.
Possibly the most appealing quality of this record is the amorphous atmosphere and use of themes. Throughout the record, the moods change very often and still retain the same overall ambience, one of nature, all her seasons, and all the fog, wind, and oak that goes with it. The atmosphere is able to do this because the band implements a lot of woodwind instruments and, thankfully, restrain from doing any senseless prog jams. There’s hardly any room to do so what with each song being no less than two to five minutes, hence the sixteen tracks. The use of themes is also important to this conception because, like any good concept piece, the multiple themes are malleable enough to be used more than once and employ alterations of how the theme is emotionally presented as illustrated by the mad happiness of Rhyadar compared to Rhyadar Alone.
Because the album is based on a book, you will find no lyrics whatsoever. This instrumental record does contain a very small handful of vocals but are merely performing na na na’s, and truthfully this record would be terrible with vocals as the music does a breathtakingly good job at storytelling, which works well since you can either read the book or create your own story. The title track is a good example of how the album paints images with incredibly inspired guitar leads and dual drawbar organs, and soon enough you will be questioning whether Koji Kondo was inspired by this record due to tracks like Friendship (Kolkiri Forest soundtrack anyone?). It flows straight into Migration, probably the one “progressive” sounding track with poppy organ chords and freeform jazz drums. Flight Of The Snow Goose defines layers with fast piano movements, very upbeat drums, octave guitar leads, Dunkirk shines above the rest with its characteristic composition with walking basses, prominent horns, a signature guitar line, and marching snares acting as a crescendo with the organ’s volume, and Epitaph’s drone of strange percussive sounds and low rumbles flows seamlessly into the beautiful piano solo of Fritha Alone. The album covers so many sounds it’s ridiculous.
With the grand closing of La Princesse Perdue and The Great Marsh, within the frantically excited violins a nostalgic organ solo preceding a slower tempo for a bittersweet, almost orchestral finale and the surprisingly dark texture to silence the record, it’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer audacity and creativity you have just been subjected to, but honestly there’s no real way of describing this record in words. Words are the biggest barrier in the world, and because of this I can only implore that you let the album speak for itself.