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Pollen - Pollen CD (album) cover

POLLEN

Pollen

 

Symphonic Prog

4.14 | 113 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Really good Canadian prog.......

Pollen were one of those bands that few people ever heard of outside of prog circles, and yet they were very talented. The band were together for several years in the 70s touring with better-known acts and no doubt upstaging them on occasion. Hailing from Quebec, they released only one album in their glory days but man is it something. Despite a somewhat corny album cover, the music contained on their album is sophisticated, beautiful symphonic prog that will delight fans of Ange, Yes, Harmonium, and Genesis. While the vocals are in French and therefore not understandable to me, I read that they cover such diverse topics as urbanization, Catholicism, life from other planets, and our own existences after death. But topics aside, the real story is the well played, lush, prog rock that shines with analog keyboards, great guitar work, and varied percussion. Flutes and vibes also add nice touches to the good melodies. Arrangements are complex and interesting and the mood of the music is fairly upbeat. Their band logo is adorned with the leaf of the marijuana plant perhaps giving the listener the band's "secret handshake" on maximizing the Pollen listening experience in their view. Geefed up or not this is a good one, folks.

"Vieux corps de vie d'ange" begins with a Gentle Giant sounding section but thankfully they quickly make their own sound evident. Pollen may have bits and pieces that sound like their heroes but they certainly don't dwell on them. This song wastes little time with foreplay, you are instantly knocked out by fantastic keyboard riffs, great drumming and guitar, and Rivest's emotional vocals. "L'etoile" begins with acoustic guitar picking and volume controlled electric leads and keyboards. The keys get more intense as the drums enter and the whole track is quite satisfying. "L'indien" is quieter starting with acoustic and softer vocal and sounding like Harmonium. A lovely, folksy tune. In the second half there are some keyboards adding a little background and some vocal harmony at the end. "Tout'l temps" is an upbeat rocker with a distinctive repeating keyboard run that seems a bit cheesy but the track will appeal to vintage keyboard fans. "Vivre la mort" sounds like Ange to me with a very showy and extroverted theatrical approach, the band having fun with an upbeat "bouncy" song. Halfway through the drums stop and the tone shifts to a spacey keyboard/guitar solo section that is marvelous. A minute later the drums return and the song builds into a propulsive ending with keys and guitars trading licks. Good stuff. "La femme ailee" begins with beautiful classical guitar soon joined by keyboards that remind me of Pentacle. It's a wistful, eyes to the night sky feeling. Around 3 minutes there is a pause and we hear some wind blowing. The group fades back in again with acoustic and vocal first and then the whole band sweeps back in, in a very majestic almost Styx-like symph-rock sound circa Grand Illusion. Then that section stops and we get a solo organ section before the band returns with a rhythmic riffing part. The final two minutes are simply an exercise in brilliant symphonic climax that will please any fan of the genre.exciting passages and very thoughtful, crisp playing.

I am giving this great re-issue 4.25 stars and recommending it to all prog fans. The booklet contains nice pictures and history along with lyrics in French. You won't be disappointed if you are a fan of the groups I mention above. It's a real shame they didn't remain together for more albums but this release is "the only recorded material available of our incredible adventure" per vocalist Tom Rivest.

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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