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Sahara - Subject Esq. CD (album) cover

SUBJECT ESQ.

Sahara

 

Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 21 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

This Munich-based group took roots in the 60's as The Subjects playing beat music, but its evolution Subject Esq. is definitely a 70's-sounding quintet, dishing an organ-driven proto-prog similar to what was done in the UK in the early 70's. Subject Esq. would be at home on the neon, Dawn or Vertigo labels. It was released in early 72 on the Epic label and was coming with a gatefold sleeve where the inner-fold is way more interesting than the outer-fold, presenting a bland red to yellow degrading naïve logo and band portrait. Lead singer Hoffman also handles the wind instruments, except for the harmonica, played by guitarist Pittwohn. Stadler's keyboards are all over the album, mainly in the form of an organ

If the first track Alone is more "straight rock" than prog, it presents a strong riff, while the following Giantania seems headed in the same "riff-y" direction but halfway though, it has some solid organ work and a superb quiet passage with some beautiful flute and bass, before the riff comes back. A rather weaker What Is Love also features an interesting middle section, but I find the sax-led riff rather cliché and the lyrics un-inspired. The inaptly-titled 5:13 (it's only 4:29 long ;o))) is another fast-paced track with double tracking (flute and sax together in the riff), but soon digress into another interesting slower flute-dominated middle section and slowly building back via the excellent organ into a Graaf-esque riff before fading out.

The flipside presents two longer tracks including the Mammon centrepiece, clocking well over the 12 minutes. If the other side featured tracks that were clumsily proggy, mostly by fitting in good middle sections, this track really shows that the group could indeed be more ambitious and even include harmonica in a prog song. This track is probably best described as a mini-epic, filled with many different instrumental passages and constantly-evolving rhythms. A cross between Colosseum and VdGG , if you ask me. The closing Durance Is Waiting has a West-Coast intro, mainly due to the vocal harmonies, but soon plunges into a demented up-tempo prog with plenty of instrumental interplay, before almost dying of a fade-out and just barely clinging onto life with a delicate background vocals and bass and slowly reconstructing the music, but with the finale ending with the help of a violin, courtesy of guest Manuala Gunther.

The Cd reissue (on the great Ohrwaschl label) comes with two lengthy live tracks as bonus, including a much expanded Giantania (now 19-mins long) and an Untitled track (most likely not its real title). While the sound of these live tracks is hardly perfect, it's nothing scandalous either. The tracks add to the album's enjoyment (IMHO, because that might not be a general opinion), as they unveil a different (live) facet of the group: raw, less-focused, more psychey and improvising/jamming. While Subject Esq.'s sole album is generally a bit over-rated by the majority (IMHO), I find it interesting and enjoyable at homeopathic doses, but hardly essential, especially compared to the group's future albums under the Sahara name.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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