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Pulsar - Pollen CD (album) cover

POLLEN

Pulsar

 

Symphonic Prog

3.48 | 96 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review Nš 21

Pulsar was formed in 1971 in Lyon, France. In the beginning the band performed some cover versions of Pink Floyd songs. In spring 1971 the group decided to stop making covers of Pink Floyd's music and decided to create and perform only their own original compositions. Pulsar managed to create a very own sound, which make of them one of the most important and respected bands in the universe of the French progressive rock music.

This is my first review of a Pulsar album. My first contact with this band was in 1975, with this debut studio album 'Pollen', released in the same year. A friend of mine lent me his vinyl copy of the album, and I must confess that I was very well impressed with it. Indeed, it was a very interesting debut album from the band. Sometime later, I decided to buy my own LP version.

'Pollen' is the band's most experimental album and is also their only album sung totally in French. It represents the beginning of a series of releases from the band that would place them at the very head of the class as far as with the French symphonic rock would be concerned. Along with a number of some other great French groups, Pulsar helped invigorate the French musical scene just as the progressive rock movement in England which seemed to be winding down. Like many of their contemporaries, the tone is almost always dark and foreboding, thought as opposed to the sometimes a kind of a violent ferocity of some other bands, Pulsar sets themselves apart by way of sparse musical arrangements, distant vocals and a down tempo feel.

The line up on the album is Gilbert Gandil (lead vocals and guitars), Jacques Roman (keyboards and synthesizers), Roland Richard (flute and strings), Philippe Roman (vocals and bass) and Victor Bosh (drums and percussion). It had also the participation of Carmel Williams (vocals), as a guest artist. Philippe Roman left the band shortly after the release of 'Pollen', for health reasons. It was replaced by bassist Michel Masson, who later collaborated with them on their two next studio albums 'The Strands Of The Future' and 'Halloween', released in 1976 and 1977, respectively.

'Pollen' has five tracks. The first track 'Pulsar' is the song that uses the group's name. It's an instrumental track, which introduces us on the album and into the musical universe of the group. It shows us what will be the kind of music that the band wants to do. It's the smallest piece of music on the album. The second track 'Apaisement' is a very calm song with great instrumental work. It's a song that combines sounds over the basic theme, and it results very well. It's sung in French and the lyrics are very poetic, soft and refined. The third track 'Puzzle/Omen' is another calm song in the same vein of the previous track. The lyrics on this song aren't sung, but recited, and is about a medieval fable. The fable is read in English by Carmel Williams, an English female student that is a friend of Jacques. The lyrics were written by Fran'ois Artaud, also a friend of Jacques, and which is a college professor. It's one of the most complex tracks on the album. The fourth track 'Le Cheval De Syllogie' is the most aggressive and experimental song of the album. It's a good and interesting piece of music, very progressive and full of dense musical atmospheres. The vocals, also in French, are made with a spoken synthesizer, which makes to us, some difficulty to understand the story. The fifth track 'Pollen' is the title track song. It's the lengthiest song on the album and the most progressive and sophisticated too. It's the highlight of the album and has some catching vocal melodies, heart wrenching piano melodies and some just enough delicate Gilmour's guitar style, which gives to Pulsar's comparison with Pink Floyd, some merit. This is the epic track on the album and is my favourite piece of music on it.

As a curiosity, in October 1975, when Peter Hammill, the leader of Van Der Graaf Generator, met them at a Van Der Graaf Generator live concert, and when he listened Pollen, he appreciated very much the album and the group. So, then he offered himself to write some letters for the group's next studio album. Unfortunately, that day never came. It seems that their record labels never reached an agreement one with each other.

Conclusion: With 'Pollen', we could see the born of a group with a blazing lyricism and also a deep romanticism. It would become one of the most important bands in the French progressive rock music scene, with some other compatriot bands, such as, Ange, Atoll and Magma. 'Pollen' is a good debut album, but is far from being as good as their following two studio albums. With 'Pollen' has born the seeds of what would be their second studio album 'The Strands Of The Future', more mature, and that vaulted Pulsar into the big leagues of the progressive French rock, and especially their third studio album 'Halloween', a concept album with an anguished romance and fantastic imagery, undoubtedly, their great masterpiece. Both albums are classics among the best releases from France in the 70's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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