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SUNRISE

Sahara

Eclectic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars 4.5 stars really!!!

What a change an album makes! Having suffered the departure of keyboardist Stadler, but added an extra guitarist, Englishman Nick Woodland (from Gift), the group changed its name from the strange and unfitting Subject Esq to the more concise Sahara and whatever adventure this new name promised. But the best thing happening to the band is the arrival of ex-Out Of Focus keyboardist Hennes Herring on many different keyboards. Coming in a superb gatefold with a fiery artwork, the album was released on a small German label Pan (Ariola), but also was distributed on the UK on the Dawn label in early 74. Now a sextet, Sahara develops a varied prog sound, sometimes veering classical, sometimes jazz, and at others, bluesy

Starting wildly on ultra quick guitar riff, Marie Celeste (a boat) quickly drops the horns and brings on the church-like organ in a quieter movement, when a sax blows its soul out and the boat sails many different and turbulent musical weather changes. The weaker Circles, country-folk track that shouldn't have crossed the ocean with those indispensable GI stationed around the country, but it's more folk than country, but it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the otherwise near-perfect album. The following Rainbow Rider is a moody track that delves into jazz, after a piano intro and a fast-paced verse, then giving us an excellent 8-minutes track, if you'll pardon the all-too-predictable repeated choir line at its end-section

If the first side is nowhere near perfection, the flipside with its side-long title track is one of the best multi-movement epic suites ever, certainly one of the most varied: from electronica to classical, but mostly their own typical rock music that has its own sound and cannot be easily pigeonholed to classic UK prog bands. This 27-minutes+ affair (!) is head-twisting, skull-numbing, mind-blowing, will-bending, nerve-wracking, hair-pulling, eye-tearing, ear-piercing, breath-taking, sinus-emptying, throat-clearing, mouth-watering , etc..; and that's just to mention what is does to your upper extremities. And the amazing feat is that the track gets better and better to reacj its apex around the end of these 27-mins+.

Definitely one of the best "trad-prog" (this means more or less symphonic, but there is so much more to it than that) album out of Germany along with the first Grobschnitt album, Herring's OOF heritage did bring the extra touch that the band needed to become excellent instead of merely good.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#9777)
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sahara's first album is a good adittion to the German prog scene of the time.It reminds of Eloy and Nektar BUT THIS ALBUM CAME OUT BEFORE THOSE ALBULMS, so that is interesting...Although if that is truth i prefer the Nektar/Eloy(first) albums, but that's just me...Cheers!!

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Send comments to deceiver (BETA) | Report this review (#9778)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Before they were Sahara, this band were known as Subject Esq. Sahara's second album "Sunrise" is a stunning album mixing pop, folk and fusion elements. Hard to exactly peg this album into one category but imagine a heavy mix of Jethro Tull, with early Yes and snippets of Nektar and you might have an idea of their sound. Musically these guys blend mellotron/organ/piano symphonia with flutes, guitars and accentuated bass in a well crafted format not unlike Yes did. The band lineup was Hennes Hering (Keyboards), Michael Hofmann (Wind, Moog, Mellotron, Vocals), Alex Pittwohn (Harmonica, Saxophone, Vocals), Harry Rosenkind (Drums, Percussion), Stefan Wissnet (Bass, Vocals), Nicholas Woodland (Guitar). Vocals are sung in English and are very well done making this album a real little gem of the progressive era. Although both sides are amazing, it is side 2 that really got my interest with a 27 min long 2 suite epic track (no matter how old I get I still love the epic numbers!!!) . I have the newly re-mastered version and the sound from all accounts is far superior to the previous versions. A great album

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#85739)
Posted Friday, August 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I've got to say that this one isn't my favourite Sahara album and honestly I don't think it should be considered as good as its follow-up though many progsters loving long experimental tracks might find this one more interesting. But especially this side-long track makes it quite difficult for me to fully enjoy this record. Though it certainly has its great moments (more in its second part) and into parts it reminds of Yes-Relayer-period I find it just much too long and especially in its first half there's little happening and the music sounds too pointless and incoherent. But this might have to do with the fact that I'm usually not fascinated by synthesizer tunes which are dominating here. So what about the three tracks on side one? Of those ones actually only the opener "Marie Celeste" which alternates between a more symphonic sound and jazz rock appears convincing to my ears in terms of Prog. "Circles" though being a pleasant song reminds too much of west-coast or even country rock style and "Rainbow Rider" starts like a straight forward rock'n'roll song becoming more interesting just in its second half. Thus overall I couldn't say at all that Sunrise is throughout an excellent album although it's really not a bad one either. Fans of experimental long-tracks and progressive electronic might find side two interesting but in general I'd rather recommend their third and last album as a starting point. But I'd add an extra half star if possible!

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#107449)
Posted Sunday, January 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a somewhat complex one to review,as there are several tempo changes in the songs that can take you by surprise. Anyway, here goes...the cd kicks off with "Marie Celeste'' (7:32),which starts out with a classical piece for 20 seconds,then gets rocking! But,just when you think it will be an all out rock song, thing's quiet down at 1 minute and the tempo changes between mellow(mostly mellow) and heavy for the rest of the song. "Circles'',which is just over 4.5 minutes long, is more of a country twinge song."Rainbow Rider''(8:35) seems to flip-flop back and forth between heavy and mellow. Of course, the real highlight is the "Sunrise'' song, which clocks in at almost 27.5 minutes. I will give a rundown of the ''Sunrise'' song..In the first 38 seconds, you can hear water sounds. Then,the music kicks in,with some flute work(it sort of reminds me of the Jethro Tull song "Living In The Past'').Between 2:16 and 5:20, there is a keyboard solo,then the music comes back into play,with several tempo changes throughout the rest of the song and musical influences,including rock,classical,and thunder sound effects between 10 and 11 minutes into the song. There is also some flute work at times.You have to hear this to believe it,though it may take a few listens. If I had to compare Sahara to anyone, it would have to be NEKTAR or ELOY , with a bit of JETHRO TULL thrown in for the flute parts.In my opinion,this should have gotten more recognition. I recommend getting this.

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Send comments to jasonpw. (BETA) | Report this review (#109240)
Posted Sunday, January 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is very much a mixed bag with lots of highs and lows and plenty of variety.

"Marie Celeste" opens with orchestral music that is promptly blown away by a great guitar led soundscape that stops too soon. Sax a minute in followed by an organ solo. Vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. We get a jazzy section 4 1/2 minutes in with piano, sax and bass. Vocals are back a minute later. Kicks back in at 6 minutes with flute, guitar, organ and drums leading the way. "Circles" has a country flavour to it with some harmonica and harmonies. Actually I was reminded of the ALLMAN BROTHERS.

"Rainbow Rider" opens with piano and as the vocals come in the tempo picks up. Don't like this section at all. A calm 2 1/2 minutes in then it starts to build. Some nice guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. It settles back 6 minutes in with a jazzy flavour before kicking back in. Not a fan of this one. "Sunrise" is the over 27 minute closer. A light pleasant melody takes over a minute in before it turns spacey as the melody stops. I must say the bass in this song is huge and the highlight for me. Thunder comes booming in after 10 minutes. The mood and tempo continues to shift. Check out the mellotron before 18 minutes. This song is clearly the highlight of the album and worth the price of admission.

Overall this is worth 3.5 stars in my opinion.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#217509)
Posted Friday, May 22, 2009 | Review Permalink

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