Exposé Online banner

Sahara — For All the Clowns
(Ohrwaschl OW 021, 1975/1993, CD)

Sahara — Sunrise
(Si Wan SRMC 1043, 1974/1997, CD)

by Mike Ohman, Published 1995-07-01

For All the Clowns Cover artSunrise Cover art

Formed from the ashes of Subject Esq., Sahara got lost among the mass of other mid-70s German prog groups (Grobschnitt, Novalis, SFF, et al.) in spite of their good distribution, though they didn't deserve to. Sahara's self-titled 1973 debut still remains elusive, but fortunately, their splendid follow-up album, Sunrise, did not escape reissue. This album effectively bridges the gap between the two camps of German progressive rock: the hard-rock, organ-based, Deep Purple-influenced music of groups such as Wind, and the symphonic prog of the bands mentioned before. They also add a jazzy bent and some mainstream influences (folk, country) to come up with a sound that was almost unprecedented. The album's opener, "Marie Celeste," systematically balances blasts of organ-driven hard rock with swinging jazzy passages spotlighting soli for sax and guitar. The melodic "Circles" includes C&W elements, slide-guitar and Nashville-styled harmonica, to arrive at what resembles a Western Cressida, or something Pink Floyd might have done for one of their soundtrack LPs. But the real reason to own the album is the 27-minute instrumental title suite, a true kitchen-sink masterwork, incorporating a mesmerizing Moog duet, impressionistic passages consisting primarily of sound effects, searing guitar-rock, a symphonic Mellotron passage, and intricate fusion workouts used as vehicles for still more solos. This alone ought to be the reason to get this album, but due to its length, admittedly it's quite an endurance test.

For the belated third album, For All the Clowns, the group take the lessons they learned from Sunrise, refine them, distill them and make them more concentrated. The end result may in fact be their best album. The idea of the synthesizer duet returns in superior form on the ten-minute title piece. The hard rock takes a back seat here to semi- intense prog a la early (Ballermann) Grobschnitt and melodic pieces and jazziness reminding of Camel. As a result, flute dominates over sax, unlike Sunrise. The use of short pieces spotlighting a solo performer — piano on "Prelude", acoustic guitar on "Fool the Fortune" is an intriguing new device which adds strength to the longer tracks they launch. Both albums beg to be rediscovered by fans of German prog.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 7, 1993 releases, 1975 recordings, 1997 releases, 1974 recordings

Related artist(s): Sahara

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Gregg Bendian - Jeff Gauthier - Steuart Liebig - G.E. Stinson - Bone Structure – Superstar improv jams can be inspired by many attributes including astute listening, profound musicianship and abandoned release. Varying doses of each of these ingredients is found in these twelve...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues