Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sahara - 1976 - For All The Clowns

For All The Clowns

01. Flying dancer (3:25)
02. The source Part I & Part II (7:12)
03. For all the clowns (11:01)
04. Prélude (1:04)
05. The mountain king Part I & II (13:20)
06. Dream queen (5:05)
07. Fool the fortune (1:19)

- Holger Brandt / drums, percussion
- Henner Hering / keyboards, synthesizers
- Michael Hofmann / Moog, guitar, flute, vocals
- Günther Moll / lead guitar, vocals
- Stefan Wissnet / lead vocals, bass, acoustic guitar

Guest musicians:
- Meryl Creser / recitation (5)
- Nick Woodland / acoustic guitar (2)

After the excellent Sunrise, Sahara will again suffer a line-up change, seeing Woodland leave (I suppose he went to Desertland), then drummer Rosekind followed, thus leaving the Subject Esq. survivors to only three (Hoffman, Wissnet, Pittwohn), with Gunther Moll (guitar) and drummer Holger Brandt (ex-Missing Link) to fill in. Little did the rest of the group know that the two newcomers would leave soon after (and despite!) the release of another excellent album. This album was released late 75 on the mother label Ariola, but came with a bizarre humoristic cartoon-esque B&W artwork, that doesn't fit the music at all. Rather important to the group's sound, Hoffman is not playing sax anymore, but he's on synths (including a Moog) and on guitars, while still fluting around, Wwhile pittwohn seems to have become the manager/producer.
After a dispensable average Flying Dancer, the group plunges into a Crimsonian atmosphere, especially in the riff opening and closing of the two-part The Source track, alternating between dark quiet passages and heavier sombre moments. This track segues without much interruption into the title track, which is just as moody as its predecessor.

Opening the flipside is a Herring piano Prélude, an intro to the remainder of the album, with the two-part Mountain King track, opening on up-tempo riff, soon joined by the flute and some Moog playing, but Herring's organ is much kinder to our ears. The middle section features a jazzy Rhodes and some brilliant electric guitar, the track coming to a stop before the Moog comes back to rekindle the flame and throw the group in a light improve and then a verse-chorus song structure, where the heavy guitar and gentle organ dominate. Dream Queen opens on 12-strings guitar arpeggios and flute, much like an early Genesis song ; but the vocals are bringing you back down to earth, because they're not quite as dream or fantasy-like. Even when the song is fully opened, the flute is taking the front stage, but sounding Tull-ian, now. The closing Fool The Fortune outro is another 12-string guitar arpeggio piece

While this album is again excellent, I personally find it not matching the preceding Sunrise album, but then again many will prefer Clowns and its more symphonic second side. In either case, both Sahara albums are very worthy and essential listening. Unfortunately the group did not record more albums once the two newcomers decided to leave this superb group.