The first video is the White Rider, which is originally on the album Mirage. Mirage is the album of 1974 and it was the second album of Camel as a group. I like it a lot as a whole, but it was not my favourite at the time I was listening to their music the most.
And as I am finding out now, it especially had to do with the White Rider (officially Nimrodel, the Procession, the White Rider). Not that I did not like that one, I always liked it a lot. The beginning, very spacy and atmospheric, great, I like that. Then the more determined marching feeling it gives, which I also very much enjoy listening to. Increasing and increasing and than wow, the guitar, just amazing. I just like it so very much. And then a sort of melancholic continuing.
Next is the start of the lyrics. While reading a lot of reviews of that album these last few day, it became clear that most consider those not the best part of Camel. So I tried to figure out what I thought of them. Some called them boring, while others called them effective but not to exciting. I kind of agree with that. Somehow Latimers voice gives me the feeling of ‘okay someone has to sing here’, but it is not the way he expresses himself, not the way as he does that with his guitar.
There were a lot of reviewers who liked the way he played the flute, who were very charmed by the second song on the album, Supertwister. Well, I must say I personally like the way he plays the pan flute in Stationary Traveller. It is a very sensitive, but at the same time strong and genuine sound, it moves me a lot.
But even there the feeling of movement is largely increasing if he starts with the guitar again. Just breathtaking, every time I hear that.
When the lyrics start in The White Rider, that is certainly not the part I like the least. Especially here I find it most effective and grounding the spacey feeling. And right after that of course the guitar again.
Then everything almost comes to a stop, with a very subtle but at the same time effective drums. The next few minutes are not especially my favourite, but I do like them. The speed and energetic going on is exciting anyway.
Coming from another world
Then the lyrics start again and were never very special to me before, but got that when I looked at the video. He sings ‘He has a certain air, as if he’s never there, but somehow far away’. He is singing of Gandalf here, but to me it is the feeling he gives himself.
On the dvd Moondances The White Rider is the first song and until this moment it all gives the impression of beautiful music, coming from another world. And so far I like the song, it would have always been one of my favourites I think.
But then, about the last minutes it starts. It is the part I am very fascinated about now, but that was not always like that. And I noticed I am not alone in that. Although there are many who find the last part exciting, there are also a lot who find it very annoying. When I was playing the dvd at home, most reactions on the whole of this concert where very positive as everyone likes it a lot. But with the last few minutes of The White Rider everyone gets irritated. But for me the more I heard it, the more interesting it got. You see Latimer start doing all kinds of things with his guitar and you get curious what is going on. And than he starts and it really is fascinating.
It is as if indeed before that ‘he was not really there, but somehow far away’ but with this part he very much gives the impression of having found a way of expressing himself with the guitar. Still searching for different ways to do that and at a point of ‘the more extensions the better’ but very much finding an individual way of expressing himself.
And after a search through classical music for several years, that, I know now, was what I missed there. No matter how much I like a lot of classical music, it always stays within a certain frame. And there is little room for self expression. Which can be a good thing. Most of the time I am more than happy if the performer keeps himself out of the way and tries to express the music how it was meant to be. But for me, there was a certain point where I started to miss the self expression of the performer.
But here it gets dangerous. Here the interpretation of the performer comes in and may be totally different from how the music was intended. Which might be fine in itself, but as a listener you often get the feeling it is not what it was meant to be, it feels overacted. As if you are not hearing the real thing.
Hearing the real thing
It is like some children are freaked out by clowns. They somehow feel the real person behind the mask and get confused. That is what I often felt with classical music. But that does not take away the immense pleasure, if it did sound as I felt was genuine. And if it did, I just had to listen to that over and over again.
But the beauty of modern music is, that it is sometimes performed by those who composed it. So that very much gives the freedom to experiment with your own compositions. And they might only get better. Which I think is the case with the music of Camel, the progression of each song through time. Although this concert on the dvd Moondances already is a highlight as a whole.
And beyond that, there always is the feeling of cooperation within the band, very stressful at times, but somehow always the coming together of very authentic individuals.
VIDEO: WHITE RIDER
(The video starts a little further in with the marching)