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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars After their spaced-out debut, Pulsar released their second album Strands Of The Future that sounded drastically different, presenting a very Genesis-based symphonic prog that would actually pave the way (and in a way pre-face) for future neo-prog groups of the 80's and give Ange a run for its money in terms of national sales. With their third album Halloween (recorded in Switzerland), Pulsar reached their artistic peak, even earning a release on an international CBS label.

The album is made from two multi-movement suites sung in English (reminiscent of future Fish ambiances in Marillion), but I must say that the "romantic" (both in the literal and visual sense) artwork always looked suspicious and actually still repel me a bit even nowadays and the storyline seems rather thin and derived from more famous children storytelling. Sound-wise Pulsar still retains the Floyd soundscapes that was their trademark, but the Genesis influence was more notable than on their previous two albums. Although there are lots of delightful moments, Pulsar's sense of writing long epics still leaves some (lots at times) space for improvements: ideas succeed to ideas but are not leading into one another. Those two epics seem a bit too much like a collage of the different shorter tracks (9 in all, ranging from 1 min 30 to 9 min+) without a succession of chords that the greater groups would've managed.

And while Pulsar had everything to gain with the promotion of this album, their CBS label (where they had a three-record deal) suddenly decided for obscure reasons not to promote it, cutting Pulsar's wings, as they were about to soar towards unsuspected heights. But this was 77, the French public being one of the first markets for the advent of punk music with the Mont-De-Marsan in 76 being the first international punk festival. This maybe explaining that, but as much as Pulsar is hailed as a superb prog group, I never thought of them as likely to break the big leagues simply because although musically good, they were never great virtuosi and songwriters. I will round up the rating to the upper unit, but this is more academic than really heartfelt.

Report this review (#5885)
Posted Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is pure prog heaven through and through and in my opinion remains one of France?s greatest Prog moments?..Although other PULSAR releases are excellent, "Halloween" is my fav and for many good reasons. The intro is perhaps the greatest prog moment ever captured and will certainly tear your heart out. "Halloween" open with the soliloquy of a little boy introducing to the listener the main theme from which PULSAR build on. "Halloween" transforms in structure and theme throughout moving in and out of many different musical passages. This is one of my all time favorite concept prog releases and must be owned by all prog heads. Many proggers have been disappointed after hearing so many good things about this release, but I must tell you that it has been love since day 1. "Halloween" is very easy to listen to and offers a very complete "orchestral -like" feel throughout.
Report this review (#5886)
Posted Sunday, March 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I totally agree with James.....A MASTERPIECE!!!!!!. A must for any serious prog collector and alike. In France maybe just Clearlight "Clearlight Symphony" gets close... The space-rock ambients in this one could have made Floyd jealous. The pinnacle of symphonic prog in France on the 70's. Two suites on this one, beatiful crafted to give you a concept album taste...a psychedelic opus that will make you listen, turn off the lights and travel...... For some will by love at first sight, or I should say listen...for others will by average work; one thing is clear will be no gray zones...A MUST in your personal collection..Period!!!
Report this review (#5887)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here comes another 5-star rating for my all-time favourite French prog act. 'Halloween' is a stunning concept album in which Pulsar continues to explore in its own reflective mood and vibrant melancholy, though the symphonic aspect of their prog is notably enhanced by a couple of factors: the employment of a major range of instrumentation (the flautist also plays clarinet, the keyboards and percussions are more abundant, guests on cello and congas), and the programatic, almost cinematographic disposition of the sections comprised in both Parts of the material. The varied musical passages make fluid transitions from introspective melancholy ('Sorrow in My Dreams', the introductory section of 'Tired Answers') to mysterious agressiveness (the tribal 'Fear of Frost', the rocky section of 'Tired Answers') to sheer sweetness (the sung parts of 'Lone Fantasy' and 'Colours of My Childhood'), which shows you how well these musicians can deal with perfect compenetration while exhibiting their own individual skills for the whole group's benefit. The gloomy density and mysterious tone that flood all over "Halloween" reaches some occasional creepy peaks sometimes (the climatic synth leads on 'Fear of Frost' flow magically on the groovy rhythm section as expressing a dance of sinister creatures drunk in a metaphysical joy), but never in the sense of a ghost story or terror movie: I feel it more like a psychological thriller, a certain indefinite horror that comes from an instrospective point of view. An example comes from the comparison between the first two sections of Part II. The sung sections of 'Lone Fantasy' and 'Dawn Over Darkness' are equally melancholic with an overwhelming vibration, but the former is sustained on a controlled use of the basic melodies and textures, while the latter utilizes a more expansive colorfulness (the doubling of flute and clarinet and the soaring guitar leads are simply delicious). The last section features soaring dual keyboard layers aupon which a voice that imitates a castrato's Latin singing adds a weird sense of subtile humor to the overall mysterious vibe. If "The Strands of the Future" signified Pulsar's arrival to its stage of maximum maturity in the quest for their own voice, "Halloween" was a step forward in the evolution of that voice. Conclusion: an undisputed gem of French prog, whose special beauty and eerie unquietness can't be reached by human words.
Report this review (#5888)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It´s one of my favourite albums! a masterpiece of dark progressive rock!! the Pulsar made an album with good taste and very original matter of make the symphonic rock. Calm, beatiful vocals (in English), lots of keyboards and few drums. Absolutely recommended!
Report this review (#5889)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first four or five minutes of this album promise a lot more than the rest of the album delivers. Things quickly become tedious once the 7/4 "jam" starts up (Chord change! PLEASE!!). You may call it "settling into a groove"; I call it static and repetitious, lacking the ability to know when a change is sorely needed. There are a couple of bright spots later, usually when they calm things down. Like "Strands of the Future", the vocals are not one of the album's strengths, and the stylistic debt to Genesis is enormous.
Report this review (#5890)
Posted Tuesday, January 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love this album. Very dark, but at times light and beautfully rejuvenating. The french accents on this aren't bothersome at all. For those of you who dislike extended instrumental pieces (I love 'em), don't fret. This album's instrumental sections aren't jammy, but more cogitative and symphonic, a bit spaced-out, but dark. This is a symphonic gem that I highly recommend to fans music that's a bit dark and reflective.

Peace & take care

Report this review (#5891)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This was the first album that I've heard of Pulsar and I love it immediatly... What a sound! Very psychdeleic with some drops of symph and great athmospheres and the cover art id terrific... If you like Ange, you will like Pulsar; 40 minutes of dark athomspeheres with great classical arrangements. A real jewel...
Report this review (#40330)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars I'm familiar with the other albums by this fine French progrock band but "Halloween" is without any doubt their 'magnum opus', what a compelling musical experience!

1 - Halloween Part One (20.30)

A high-pitched boy's voice introduces the listener to this stunning composition. Then moving violin-Mellotron waves, followed by twanging acoustic guitars, blended with the vintage sound of the string-ensemble and Mellotron. Suddenly a captivating, ominous climate featuring slow, fat sounding synthesizer flights, violin-Mellotron, culminating in bombastic outbursts with powerful drum beats, gradually the atmosphere got more psychedelic overtones delivering a hypnotizing rhythm-section and compelling keyboard work on synthesizers and Mellotron and psychedelic guitar play, THIS IS PULSAR AT THEIR BEST! The climate turns into mellow with the distinctive sound of the vibraphone and twanging acoustic guitars and sensitive piano but soon the climates frequently change from mellow into bombastic with dramatic English vocals, lush acoustic guitars and a harder- edged, disorted electric guitar solo. In the end we can enjoy again dramatic vocals and the wonderful sound of the string-ensemble.

2 - Halloween Part Two (18.40)

First a mellow atmosphere featuring a lush sound with violin, vibraphone, cello, acoustic rhythm-guitar, clarinet and melancholical vocals. Then a bombastic outburst with howling electric guitar and beautiful Mellotron waves. The climate returns to mellow delivering a wonderful harmony between twanging acoustic guitars, flute, sensitive electric guitar and English vocals, it reminds me of early STEVE HACKETT solo, BEAUTIFUL! Halfway another sensational, very compelling shifting mood with a propulsive rhythm-section, spectacular synthesizer flights and soft wah-wah guitar riffs, GOOSE BUMPS! Suddenly the music returns to a dreamy climate with violin-Mellotron, string-ensemble and soft vocals, a wonderful final part.


Report this review (#42505)
Posted Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Obviously I'm having the same problem with this excessively symphonic and highly classical tinged, melodic and romantic kind of prog as my fellow reviewer Sean Trane. I can't change it but I'm just not able to get crazy about such stuff. Especially when it comes to almost crooner type of vocals I'm getting more and more allergic against. This is not the case with other French bands even coming from the pure symphonic field like Ange, Carpe Diem or Clearlight which I'm adoring. Whereas Pulsar was offering here on their amongst progheads highly acclaimed third effort not much that can hold my interest not to mention of ignition of at least a slight fascination. It appears to me that they tried to hold some tension during most of the two long compositions but actually there isn't anything exciting happening finally and the listener (at least me) is left quite unsatisfied after the CD has finished. Overall there are just a couple of great enjoyable moments for me in the second track which are immediately cancelled by setting in of the vocals that I do not like at all. Really pity, but Pulsar will not enter my list of favorite French bands.
Report this review (#81056)
Posted Tuesday, June 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third album "Halloween". PULSAR at their best.Spacey masterpiece. Aesthetic,spacey symphonic sound. The music like mixed PINK FLOYD (acoustic guitar, calm keyboard, drum) and KING CRIMSON (wind instrument, mellotoron), GENESIS (electric guitar, sinthesizer).

"Colours Of Childhood" is the most exciting track in the first half. "Lone Fantasy" is dark,sound like the beginning of bad dream. "Dawn Over Darkness" is a magnificent rock symphony like a Italian rock. "Time" is the beautiful ending of the album that purify everything.

This album is a beautiful nightmare.Surely one of the finest album of space rock. Highly recommended.

Report this review (#83865)
Posted Sunday, July 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Considered by many progheads as a classic of French progressive rock. This is sort of a cross of Genesis and King Crimson. The only problem for me is the vocals in English. They should've stuck to French. I just don't understand why these obscure bands who cannot seriously think of having a top ten single give in to singing in English for commercial reasons ?! 3.5 stars. 4 stars had they sung in French !
Report this review (#98985)
Posted Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars I had high expectations for this record after reading so many positive reviews but I couldn't agree more with hdfisch's thoughts and feelings about "Halloween". The biggest problem for me are the vocals.They're not that good and almost spoken most of the time. And in English for some reason instead of French.

The highlights for me are the liberal use of mellotron on "Tired Answers".This song is fantastic the way they create tension for about 6 minutes as the beautiful waves of mellotron flow. The acoustic guitar interjects for brief moments, then flute comes in. It's after 6 minutes that things speed up as drums take the lead. I also like the guitar melody during "Colours Of Childhood". The highlight for me on Part II is "Dawn Over Darkness" where the guitar is uplifting and the flute and light drum section is enjoyable. "Fear Of Frost" opens with what is supposed to be spooky synths, but they sound more like sci-fi noises from a bad Flash Gordon show. The final short song "Time" is rather haunting though.

Good album, but far from the masterpiece I was expecting. Although if I could remove the vocals I would say 4 stars easily for this haunting and spacey style of music.

Report this review (#116524)
Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Contrary to what has been said previously I consider that there's nothing seriously psychedelic or spaced out in this album. Pulsar plays an intense, bizarre and complex symphonic rock, featuring luminous epics. I consider it as a hybrid between Genesis most ambitious works with King Crimson's typical weird guitars & harmonies. Some emotional flute/synth parts are exposed as interludes but not to create magnetic, hypnotic vibes, it brings something very melodic, inspired by dark romanticism or something like that. Part 1 starts with a very ethereal prelude featuring acoustic guitar arpeggios and introspective synth strings. After five minutes we fall into a progressive hard rocking "trip" punctuated by melodic, calm, acoustic atmospheric passages. During the last minutes, we assist to a very emotional, melodic song with Genesis like expressive vocals. "Part two" begins with a sinister epic instrumental then it carries on a delicious romantic song with acoustic ingredients, plaintive melodic voices. After 5 minutes there's a transition into an inspired, technical, emotional, majestic guitar solo. The song also contains some very commercial moments that are hard to ignore. A very accessible, pleasantly progressive melodic album. This one remains an honest french answer to classic prog rockin' combos.
Report this review (#128061)
Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Excellent album of mid-70s symphonic prog contains 2 tracks, each as long as a single side of the original vinyl. Music is very mellow and reminds me HACKETT's "Voyage...", "Tresspass"-era GENESIS, with some influence of CAMEL. Warm sound of mellotron is well harmonized with spacy guitar riffs and flute passages, creating romantic and sentimental atmosphere. Really deserves 4, even 4 and a quarter!
Report this review (#149870)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Third opus from this good French band. Influences here are plenty : "Floyd" of course, "Crimson", "Oldfield" as well as "Tangerine Dream".

You can add some symphonic touches ("Genesis") as well, and you'll get the picture. The space-rock trip proposed here, is extremely pleasant. After a short intro, the start of "Tired Answer" is just fabulous, but unlike other reviewers, I just feel about the same throughout the two suite-pieces of music contained in this very good album.

Beauty and emotion are best expressed here. One of the sweetest flute, acoustic guitar and mellotron combination I have ever heard. On par with some great "Genesis" moments. The mood changes drastically during the second part which sounds more as a tortured, dark "Crimson" recipe. Very good combination which flows perfectly the one into the other. A highlight.

The third movement ("Colours of Childhood") is somewhat mellow and more spacey. Very soft (but not great, I admit) vocals and pleasant synth finale. It is also true to say that the last movement ("Sorrow Of My Dreams") from "Part I" is not as powerful as "Tired Answer". But otherwise, it would have been a masterpiece.

The listener is brought back again in the spacey and ambient atmosphere with "Lone Fantasy". Same sort of song like "Colours of Childhood" : peaceful acoustic music with this time, a smooth sax to punctuate it.

"Dawn Over Darkness" opens with a fantastic and fully symphonic section again. Vocals tend to be a bit too theatrical ("Ange" 's influence I guess). Fully Trespass-esque and tranquil. Like during the short "Misty Garden Of Passion". We'll get another "Crimson" style of instrumental track with "Fear Of Frost". Harrowing, scary, jamming. This brings some diversity in this ocean of symphony in which we are plunged again during the wonderful opera-like "Time". A great closing section, believe me (just too short IMO).

These thirty-nine minutes are so expressive (even if melancholic at times), so subtle, so melodic that one has the impression that times flies while listening to it. Do yourself a favour and have a spin with "Halloween". You shouldn't regret it if you like the references I have mentioned in my intro.

Four stars.

Report this review (#152477)
Posted Saturday, November 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

Happy Iedul Fitri 1429H

Yes, it's a holiday season in my country and all Muslim communities around the globe in many countries. Salam to all of you. And, why did I play this dark symphonic prog music by Pulsar while supposedly this is a victory day for me after a full month of fasting? First off, I was not aware that the music I was about to play was a dark one (even though from the cover it could tell me already). The reason I played was actually the CD has been with me for years I had no chance to spin. I purchased the CD from friend of mine and never did some research about the album. Pulsar? Of course I have known the band quite well from its album "The Strands of The Future" which I have reviewed here. But, that's the only album I have in my collection until I purchased "Halloween" from my friend.

Second, there was ten days period at the end of fasting month that Moslems were urged by Prophet Muhammad to stay the whole days and nights at mosque which we call it as I'tikaf. It was intended as way to approach God (Allah) much more intimately, personally, especially during night time through shalat (pray) and reading the Koran. I did that. The kind of music like Pulsar's "Halloween" suits with the nuance of dark (of course not the "horror" side as this album was categorized by many music critics). To me, the music delivered by this band creates an excellent nuance for me to stay closer to the creature, Allah The Merciful.

Dark Spacey Symphonic Prog

The music delivered by Pulsar here is significantly different than its predecessor "The Strands of The Future" even though the roots of keyboard-driven elements are similar. The overall composition is totally different because keyboard is no longer as main contributor of the music as it contains woodwind (flute), cello / violin, acoustic guitar and typically mellotron. The melody-line in the music is quite strong, as strong as its predecessor. As a concept album, like Jethro Tull's "Thick As Abrick" or "A Passion Play", this album contains only two tracks (epcs) with many movements inside the epic, consuming one side of the LP for each epic.

"Halloween part I" (20:30) starts off with mellow classical child's voice (Sylvia, aged 7) accompanied by touchy piano touch named as "a) Halloween song" (1:20) followed brilliantly by an excellent transition piece of long sustain keyboard / mellotron work. The acoustic guitar that follows the segment reminds me to ELP's "The Sage". It's then followed with a stream of nice flute work and long sustain keyboard work. This is all indicating the next movement "b) Tired answers" (9:30) which was written wonderfully. At approx minute 5 there are great keyboard work in low register notes with loud volume augmented with long sustain keyboard play that creates symphonic nuances. AT approximately minute 6:39 the drumwork enters brilliantly. The music then moves in spacey mood in the vein of Tangerine Dream or similar with the band's previous work "The Strands of The Future". There are mellotron work at background that sometimes played at the background and creating wonderful nuance of the music. I do enjoy this part. It means very deep in the process of me approaching God. It's so beautiful. The music turns to mellow just before reaching a break with male chanting. Oh my God! What follows is a beautiful piano work accompanied by guitar and long sustain keyboard work. So nice! This remarks the entrance to the next movement "c) Colours of childhood" (6:00). Under this movement, there is male vocal accompanied unplugged by acoustic guitar and piano work while sometimes mellotron provides its nice music background. At minute 14:20 the music turns spacey that reminds me to Tangerine Dream or later I knew with the music of Jean Michelle Jarre. Approaching minute 15, there is a wonderful electric guitar solo by Gilbert Gandil (bespectacled like Steve Hackett in the 70s). The end of this section is a great drum / percussion work. That remarks the entrance to the last movement "d) Sorrow in my dreams" (3:40) with great lyrical verse and vocal. This ending part of the epic is truly captivating and inspiring. Halloween Part I is really excellent!

"Halloween part II" (18:40) starts in horror mode augmented by cello work by Jean Ristori (Recording Director who also contributed as guest musicians. Jean Ristori was formerly with Patrick Moraz' MAINHORSE). The nuance created by this opening part is great and horror in nature. In my opinion, this is better than Genesis' "The Waiting Room". It's like watching a horror movie. The cello brings nicely vocal line in this first movement "a) Lone fantasy" (4:50). The acoustic guitar accompanies this movement nicely. The cello work makes the music melodic especially when piano is also contributing its work through catchy notes. "b) Dawn over darkness" (6:10) enters with great music sounds using keyboard, drums ..and stunning electric guitar work. It's then followed with vocal line augmented beautifully with flutework and acoustic guitar as well as electric. It sounds so classic and inspiring. I especially love the interjection of flutework that reminds me to King Crimson's "I Talk To The Wind". One thing that amazes me with this movement is that the fact the melody line is not that catchy but the composition proves to be very effective in creating distinctive nuance of the sounds. At approx minute 9:14 drum enters the music beautifully, brings the music in crescendo as the vocal line moves in higher notes. The electric guitar plays beautifully at background altogether with keyboard and flute. The music turns into break as a remark of next movement "c) Misty garden of passion" (2:15) which comprises nice cello work and keyboard sounds. At approx 12:55 drum / percussion provides its work brilliantly in unique signature followed with acoustic guitar work and then keyboard solo. The music turns into horror in "d) Fear of frost" (3:35). The drum work returns back to the music brilliantly and the music turns a bit complex in relatively loud volume. The concluding movement "e) Time" (1:50) brings the music in mellow dark nuance featuring long sustain keyboard work plus high pitched vocal of Sylvia EKSTROM, aged 7.

I thought it would be three, but I finally think it's four and half stars!

Yeah, it's an excellent legendary progressive rock album, my friends! My initial first spin reaction I did not think that this album would reach four stars because most segments were just simple. But with many more spins, I thought it would be just four stars. And now .. after spinning more than five times (and I want to do it again with the same LOUD VOLUME at my home stereo), I think this album deserves four and half stars. The only thing that do not make a full five star rating is on some transition pieces that the band actually can make it smoother than this album. In some movements they sound like fading out. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#184361)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This isn't as good as Pulsar's previous 'Strands of the Future'. 'Halloween' is a very slow-evolving album... even plodding at times. It does have a few moments of excellence however, and is rife with beautiful and sinister analog synthesizer passages. The material is fairly dark and inaccessible; it will take a few full listens for the quality to shine through the dense cloudy atmosphere.

I think this album would have benefited from being broken up into more individual compositions, instead of a single 40-minute suite broken up into two sections. The 'Halloween' concept never reaches it's full potential either... the lyrics are hard to understand because of the singer's thick French accent, I would have much preferred he sing in his native language.

The first half of the album is mostly instrumental and is very successful in building a shadowy autumnal atmosphere. You become submerged slowly in cascading ambient synth waves, provided mostly by the distinctive and hypnotic Eminent sound, as well as abundant Mellotron swells. There is an awesome up-tempo section in the middle which is heavy on fantastic Arp Odyssey noodling. The first half only looses me slightly when the vocalist finally decides to chime in on a very Floyd-sounding part around the 12-minute mark.

The second half begins with a very dark atmospheric soundscape reminiscent of late 70's Italian horror films... this section is the most successful on the album in creating a Halloween-type mood. The section that immediately follows this 'intro' is my favorite on the entire album: a beautiful nostalgic mood is forged from vibraphone, flute, clarinet, cello, piano, acoustic guitar strums and the most memorable vocal melodies that this band ever recorded. I wish everything they wrote was as great as this 'Lone Fantasy' movement.

There are many individual parts that i love on this album, but too many long slow-moving spaces between them to make it a cohesively entertaining listening experience... i would still highly recommend this to Space Rock heads, but i think the average 'Symphonic Prog' fan might have a hard time getting into it... it's all about mood and atmosphere over technical wizardry or flashy solos. Honestly, i think this band belongs in the 'Psychedelic/Space Rock' sub-genre.

Report this review (#204892)
Posted Monday, March 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The moody French space-rockers of Pulsar made a splash with their 1976 sophomore LP, "The Strands of the Future". And they were able to maintain their creative momentum long enough to produce this masterpiece the following year...just in time to be rudely shoved off the musical map at the tail end of the decade.

Too bad, because this effort was a big step beyond even the excellent "Strands", showing a rare combination of fire and refinement, all of it displayed to good advantage in a crystal-clear production, one of the best of its era. The album has an imposing structural integrity as well, beginning with 11- minutes of maybe the most dramatic music ever released under the greater Prog umbrella (play it loud if you don't believe me), and concluding a half-hour later with another tense, altogether cinematic blow out, marred only by the 'spooky' synthesizer wail at the start of the jam.

In between are several shorter but no less haunting song interludes, enhanced by an artful application of melancholy cello, vibes and clarinet, complimenting Gilbert Gandil's limpid acoustic guitar (in both appearance and style Gandil was a ringer for mid-'70s STEVE HACKETT).The tight ensemble work from the entire quintet generally favored atmosphere and nuance over empty Prog Rock virtuosity, but make no mistake: these guys could play.

The music throughout is dressed in a lush, symphonic ambience, matching the romantic overkill of the cover photography. And it's a concept album (of sorts) too, following an obscure narrative penned by drummer Victor Bosch (the story is reproduced in the CD booklet, but in very small print and entirely in French).

No wonder the New Wave reactionaries at CBS Records dropped it like a hot Prog potato in 1977. But then again I did the same thing at the time, rashly discarding my original vinyl after jumping aboard the Post Punk bandwagon. Rediscovering the Musea label CD in the late 1990s was like hearing the album for the first time: a rare and welcome pleasure for a born-again Proghead. Who says you can't go home again?

It's (happily) ironic how so much of the music supplanting Progressive Rock at the end of the 1970s is now totally forgotten, while the richness and sophistication of albums like "Halloween" continue to endure, a full generation later. Popularity can sometimes be a passing fad, but a true classic can't be pushed aside so easily.

Report this review (#208757)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I do not get it. This album has been hyped up as one of the best ever symphonic prog albums of all times. Well, I disagree.

The album starts with a children voice I am sure someone else has copied from this band because I have heard it before. Maybe a BBC TV programme. Then the album moves into a landscape populated by ELOY. The music is pedestrian and almost new-age. The mood is dark. Then a MIKE OLDFIELD and PINK FLOYD like theme kicks in and. Some distorted guitars, flutes and a beautiful choir are added to the mellotrons. The vocals are excellent too. I cannot fault the musicians here.

My main gripe is the lack of variety and details. New-Age music is not my thing and I feel that this album is pretty close to being New-Age. For me, good symphonic prog is what the likes of GENESIS and ELP is doing. They are filling their albums with details and quirks. I have been listening to this albums ten times now and I am still searching for details and new angles to this album. I cannot find them. Not even with the volume turned up to eleven.

The good thing about this album is that the music is beautiful at times. The vocals are heavenly. The choice of instruments are excellent. But the music does not make the earth move for me. And that is the hallmark of a classic. This album is not a classic. But I am by no means dismissing it. This album has some really beautiful passages. It is one of the albums worth buying (but I am not selling mine !). I may even like this album more in five years time. Or even in one years time. But at this moment; it does not move the earth for me. Sorry !

3.5 stars

Report this review (#219250)
Posted Monday, June 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars a masterpiece for all time - i dont wanna write a long review - what can i say when prog music talking to u . i think prog band must be original and special - Halloween : ok some light and more dark - 2 long track that everything u want is in it - i must say that pulsar is the only band in this genres from france that u cant find any similar for it - so , just listen and keep your opinion for yourself - maybe u want to change it after a long ........... - masterpiece and no more word
Report this review (#417522)
Posted Thursday, March 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Pulsar's masterpiece is a sinister symphonic prog epic spanning the full length of the album. Like their preceding albums, there's a space rock flavour to proceedings, but this time around it's shot through with a dark, brooding energy with the occasional outbreaks of loud, pulsing rhythms and uncharacteristically aggressive guitar work for symphonic prog. With synth wizard Jacques Roman clearly drinking from the same well as Klaus Schulze and Tangerine dream at points, rhythm section Victor Bosch and Michel Masson occasionally approaching Zeuhlish territory at their more energetic moments, jack of all trades Roland Richard adding textures here and there and singer-guitarist Gilbert Gandil rocking out like his very soul depends on it, Halloween is a great little album.
Report this review (#557097)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Often clumsily referred to by some critics and fans as the French equivalent to Pink Floyd's seminal 1973 release 'Dark Side Of The Moon', this luminous third album from the symphonic outfit Pulsar is an excellent example of the highly-eclectic progressive rock scene that blossomed throughout France during the mid-to-late-seventies. Alongside the likes of Magma, Ange and Atoll, Pulsar, who originated from the bustling metropolis of Lyon, were one of the country's leading progressive lights, releasing their highly-regarded debut album 'Pollen' in 1975 and an equally-lauded follow-up, 'The Strands Of The Future', a year later. The latter would prove to be a sizeable commercial success, selling almost 50,00 copies in it's first year alone and, thanks in part to to a subsequent tour and solid support from their label, winning themselves a large fan-base that stretched across France and reached into other French-speaking territories such as Belgium and Switzerland. Signing on with major label CBS, the group were now considered a major act in their homeland, and the success of their second album afforded Pulsar the opportunity to take their time in writing and recording their next album, choosing to base themselves in the lush surroundings of the 24-track Aquarius Studio's in Geneva. Assisted by multi-instrumentalist Jean Ristori, a former member of the short-lived progressive outfit Mainhorse(famous for helping to launch the career of ex-Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz), Pulsar spent five weeks perfecting 'Halloween' before disaster struck. Returning home, the musicians discovered that the musical landscape had shifted dramatically. Seemingly overnight Punk was now the hip new musical force and as a result CBS decided on a drastic change of management. The label's new team had little love for Pulsar's brand of classically- influenced rock, and as a result the group's upcoming tour was cancelled and the album's slated release date postponed indefinitely. No money was made available for promotion and, unsurprisingly, 'Halloween' sold poorly. The group had managed to pull off the remarkable trick of producing a lush symphonic album at exactly the wrong time. Despite the album's failure, however, the recent upsurge of interest in all things progressive has seen 'Halloween' subsequently re-evaluated. Featuring two lengthy extended pieces, 'Halloween' is a hauntingly beautiful evocation of the French sound, blending elements of Genesis, PFM and Pink Floyd with a unique Gallic twist into a classically-tinted mixture that gives the album a uniquely-theatrical edge. The pace is slow, and it is by no means an immediate piece, needing several listens to truly grasp before the many layers start to reveal themselves. Those who persevere, however, will be richly-rewarded by an album that is ranked by many as not only one of the great French prog-rock albums, but as one of the great prog-rock albums of all-time and an excellent entry-point into the wonderful world of classic European prog. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Report this review (#633926)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars Not the masterpiece it is said to be. Way overhyped. By this point, the spacey has been replaced with the standard "prog synth"(late '70s STYX?), and they've lost their "french sound". Obviously geared to a larger market - even the heavily accented english vocals sound like they were phoned in as an afterthought. By this point, they could be compared to a "french Pink Floyd", because it sounds like a former Canadian Prime Minister vocalizing the Ricola commercial in the Gasp�©sie region through a vocoder. More like "Wish You Weren't Here"...the poor man's Floyd from Shawinigan. I'm so worked up of how overrated "Halloween" is, it's got me writing gibberish. OK, Not my cup of tea...but someone here might like it if you can get past the vocals. Pulsar should stick to their native tongue. This is 2 stars because the music is not that bad. This would normally garner a 3 star rating, but it's the vocals I find so irritating. Stick to the first 2 albums "Pollen" and "The Strands Of The Future" if you want to hear the legend of Pulsar. The aforementioned deserve all the praise the world over.
Report this review (#873288)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Halloween is the third album by this seminal French band. An essential work for any serious prog fan. In fact the first 4 albums are excellent. Originally 2 tracks, parts 1 & 2 comprising 9 'mini pieces'. From the opening bars of Halloween song, Pulsar take you on an extended sonic journey. Gilbert Gandil's guitar work along with Jacques Roman's keyboards give a spacy, pre-DSOTM feel. Sorrow in my dream is a stand-out track. Unfortunately released as Punk was taking over the world and a lack of support from their label meant that the band did not receive the exposure they deserved. Check out 'Bienvenue au Conseil d'Administration!
Report this review (#938860)
Posted Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Halloween" is surely one of the most fascinating and intriguing album, released at the end of the seventies, a time when the prog was about to be buried by the punk . Recorded in Geneva with the new bassist Michel Masson and based on a surreal dialogue between a girl and a mysterious entity, an idea of drummer Victor Bosch, the cd pulls out a meticulous sound and a great team spirit, the evident result of a long search.

It starts with the childhood chant of "Halloween Song" and immediately enter into "Tired answer", a rarefied song, nestled in a dimension really exciting full of delicate inserts of acoustic Guitar and dreamy keyboards, with the flute Richard in evidence. The piece takes shape and force, the aggressive rhythm of drums, and guitar sounds distorted to art, while Jacques Roman juggles the best among its many keyboards, masterfully to emphasize several points. "Colours of childhood" offers warm Gandil voice, singing in English (as in the remaining pieces) before of stunning space-rock of "Sorrow in my dreams", vibrant and full of pathos.

The second part of the concept opens up on bleak images of loneliness ("Lone fantasy"), a singing accompanied by cello, piano and acoustic guitar, and a nice game of assorted percussion, that flow gently in the beautiful and airy attack of "Dawn over darkness" electric guitar of Gandil salt to the stage, while the usual atmosphere and liquid suspended, and a voice that grows in intensity toghether music, on the carpets of flute and keyboards and the addition of syncope percussive. A jewel that is perhaps the culmination of the cd after the brief interlude of "Misty garden of passion" is the night ride "Fear of frost", a frantic dance of ghosts, in the heart of a childhood nightmare, the voices fade into the organ of the Roman conclusive "Time".

"Halloween" is the masterpiece of the Pulsar and a whole genre of symphonic rock and romantic, customized by electronic touches and misterious keyboards , that someone wanted to pull over to Pink Floyd 's more mature phase.

Report this review (#1090736)
Posted Monday, December 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Kingdom Records organized a huge promotion tour for Pulsar's second album next to a new group named Sunset Wading.But as Sunset Wading's debut album was continuously canceled the French group had to hit the road alone with a shortened schedule of around 10 gigs.They were enough to earn the band full publicity and raise the sales of ''The strands of future'' up to 40,000 copies.At the end of the year Michel Masson joined Pulsar on bass and the band was in search of a new label, as the contract with Kingdom Records had expired.They signed with CBS, which immediately pushed the band to write down some new material.Pulsar headed to a farm in the mountains of the Savoy region, where most part of their upcoming work was written.They revisited the Aquarius Studios in Geneva with Yes' Patrick Moraz helping out in production.Release month was December 1977 and the third Pulsar album was entitled ''Halloween''.

''Halloween'' was the most ambitious effort ever created by the group, consisting of two sidelong pieces, which were also linked to each other.''Halloween Part I'' clocks at 20 minutes and it is definitely the best of the pair.A Symphonic-Space Rock tour-de-force with massive instrumental and mood changes, featuring extended hypnotic undelines with powerful, cosmic synthesizers and melancholic acoustic colors, but also some big symphonic washes with dominant Mellotrons and nervous electric guitars.Among the best creations of the group, this one is divided in four sections, being largely instrumental with only some female narration in the opening seconds and some male vocals at the end, combining the PINK FLOYD approach with the old KING CRIMSON/GENESIS aesthetics.Even so Pulsar had come up with a very personal sound, having plenty of dramatic and fairytale atmospheres in the same track.Fantastic and clever use of synthesizers, very deep, spacey soundscapes and great orchestral work on Mellotron.A piece of music to admire.

''Halloween Part II'' is just one minute shorter than the opening piece, but not exactly on par with the ultimate inspiration of the band during the first 20 minutes.Of course it is not bad at all, actually this is another fine epic delivery by the group, even more diverse and flexible with the addition of some sax, flute and violin parts, but fails to reach the instrumental depth of the opener.Pulsar will again offer laid-back, spacey and highly symphonic music with the focus on atmosphere, limiting the presence of the melodic, electric textures in the sake of long, keyboard-led soundscapes, which prevail throughout the track, acccompanied often by Gilbert Gandil's vocals.This one comes very close to CLEARLIGHT at moments, especially during the second part, which features jamming electric power next to some angular electronics.Overall its first part is pretty great with strong PINK FLOYD/GENESIS/CAMEL resemblances, while the second sounds just a bit directionless, even if the atmospheric outro with the impressive male chant-like voices is again beautiful.

The more balanced mix between Symphonic and Space Rock.Strongly recommended, the opening piece is absolutely great, the following one is pretty nice as well even if not that consistent.Approach with comfort...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#1153063)
Posted Monday, March 24, 2014 | Review Permalink
5 stars Review Nş 42

Pulsar is a French symphonic progressive rock band formed in the early of the 70's in Lyon, France. Almost forty years ago, Pulsar was acclaimed as one of the best French progressive rock bands, among others such as Ange, Atoll and Magma. They began their successful musical career with their debut studio album 'Pollen' released in 1975. But, their second studio album 'The Strands Of The Future' released in 1976, launched Pulsar into the big scene of the French progressive rock music. However, it was only with their third studio album 'Halloween' released in 1977, that they achieved the stardom and the really acclaimed world success. With 'Halloween', Pulsar left the French geographic space and achieved the status of a great progressive world's band. The success of the album was such that 'Halloween' became even known in some circles as one of the best symphonic progressive albums of all time.

The band's name Pulsar was derived from the dark sun in outer space, which can be found only by the sound waves that it emits. Pulsars are rotating neutron stars, and how they're very dense the pulses are very regular. The electromagnetic radiation can only be observed when the beam of emission is pointing towards the Earth, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission. This regular effect is called the lighthouse effect.

The line up of the band on 'Halloween' is Gilbert Gandil (lead vocals and guitars), Jacques Roman (mellotron, keyboards and synthesizers), Roland Richard (acoustic piano, flute, clarinet and strings), Victor Bosh (drums and percussion) and Michel Masson (bass guitar). Masson is an old friend of the band and has replaced Philippe Roman (vocals and bass) who participated on their debut album Pollen, and left the band in 1976 for health reasons.

'Halloween' is a conceptual symphonic studio album with only one theme, with the same name of the album. It's divided into two side long parts, 'Halloween Part I' and 'Halloween Part II'. Each part is also divided into several songs. On the first part, the 'Halloween Part I', there are four songs: 'Halloween Song', 'Tired Answers', 'Colours Of Childhood' and 'Sorrow In My Dreams'. On the second part, the 'Halloween Part II', there are five songs: 'Lone Fantasy', 'Dawn Over Darkness', 'Misty Garden Of Passion', 'Fear Of Frost' and 'Time'. On this third musical work of the group, this is the first time that all the lyrics on the album are sung in English.

'Halloween' tells us a kind of an imaginary journey of a little girl to the country of sad dolls. This ambiguous, esoteric, cruel and entirely surrealistic story, relates the conversation between the little girl and an undefined person or thing. The lyrics were written in common by all the musicians, but were inspired on a strange story written by their drummer Bosh, some time before. The lyrics were written in French by all the musicians and translated into English by an English teacher, friend of them. Probably, he is Fran'ois Artaud, the same college professor who translated 'Puzzle/Omen' on 'Pollen'. Musically, the research for the write of all the musical pieces was also done by all the musicians. Despite all the musicians love different kinds of music, it's particularly evident the influence on this album, of the romanticism of the Gustav Mahler's music and the atmospheric ambiguous and indolent of the Luchino Visconti's film 'Death In Venice', directed in 1971, which was based on the novel of the same name of Thomas Mann.

Pulsar toured throughout Europe to present on live, 'Halloween'. In 1978, the group performed in two night concerts in my country, Portugal, where 15.000 people saw the two live shows that will last forever in their memory. It was the final evidence of their successful musical career and their potential as a big world's band. I had the privilege of being one of those 15.000 people who assisted to one of those two live concerts in Cascais, a place near to Lisbon.

Conclusion: Probably, Pulsar is my French favourite band of the 70's, and 'Halloween' is probably also my favourite French album of the 70's. This is a perfect work which combines musical success with the celebration of a grandiose symphonic music and a technical achievement with perfect recording and full of nuances of a mixture of dark and warm colours. 'Halloween' is a fetishist cult album where the beauty and the perfection give to it the timelessness and the longevity which are the prerogatives of the truly masterpieces' works. Pulsar's 'Halloween' is undoubtedly one of the major's progressive albums of the second half of the 70's, as well as their previous album 'The Strands Of The Future'. 'Halloween', is simply a touchingly, beautiful and emotional symphonic progressive rock album, and is one of the essential musical pieces from the French rock scene of the 70's. Both, 'Halloween' and 'The Strands Of The Future' are two truly classics of the dark symphonic progressive rock albums, and are among the best releases that came out of France in the 70's. Definitely, they're two personal favourites of mine and deserve to be better known.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Report this review (#1498281)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars France produced several symphonic prog bands in the 70's, and PULSAR were among the best. Some have called them the French Pink Floyd, and it's pretty poignant if one doesn't take it too literally. The spacey debut (1975) has elements of psychedelia reminiscent of the Saucerful-era Floyd, as well as some electronic music flavours. The instrumentally oriented, wonderfully atmospheric second album The Strands of Future (1976) increased symphonic prog elements and shifted the band's style just a bit closer to Genesis. Thanks to its success, the band were signed to CBS and given the best studio equipment available for the third album Halloween. It has been hailed as one of the masterpieces of European symphonic prog. Undoubtedly the feelings of disappointment that some critics here have felt is due to all the hype they have seen on this album. Revealingly, many ratings (with the review included) are either five or three stars.

The 39-minute album has two side-long parts, both featuring titled movements that follow each other seamlessly. Part One starts with a girl vocalise in the melody of 'Danny Boy', backed with piano only. The longest movement 'Tired Answers' is at first very delicate and slow-tempo instrumental prog with synths, acoustic guitar and flute in the main roles, until the darker, horror-like mood sets in and the intensity grows. The keyboards dominate, reminding more of the Tangerine Dream between '74 - '79 than British bands such as Genesis. The third and fourth movements feature male vocals, sung tenderly in English. The perfectly produced sound is a beautiful combination of the acoustic and the electronic. The mood remains restrained, semi-creepy at best, in a rather mellow and romantic way, and perhaps some listeners would expect more edginess from a horror-themed work.

The second part is equally elegant, starting with a slow tempo delicacy with vocals. The vocals are even more central on the melodic and symph-prog structured second movement 'Dawn Over Darkness'. The flute makes a beautiful appearance. 'Misty Garden of Passion' is a mellow instrumental interlude, followed by a more intense, synth-oriented 'Fear of Frost'. One may think of the most prog-rock albums of Tangerine Dream (Cyclone and Force Majeure). The slow and majestic final movement has ethereal vocals and synths.

When I started this review I didn't know my rating. I've had the CD for four years but haven't listened to it often. Halloween may not be as unforgettable symph prog masterpiece as the certain British classics from Genesis, Yes, Renaissance, Camel, etc., but I can't really spot any faults in it. If you're in a suitable mood -- not expecting more edginess and originality -- you will most likely find a lot to enjoy on this excellently produced and coherent concept album.

Report this review (#1724933)
Posted Monday, May 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Again I ramble on about the cover art. In this case I have to, so that everyone unaware of the content on this album are able to make the right decision and buy this sperctacular piece of progressive music. It's true, the cover is quite awful. Some sort of romantic get together or is it a scene from some late 70's soft porn movie? What I think happened back in 1977, when this album was released, was that someone misunderstood his or hers instructions regarding the artwork. Someone misread or misinterpreted the grand scheme behind the cover. Well, the damage may have been done and now we must not dwell upon it any longer. Therefore I will journey on, to the music itself.

Pulsar was a sypmhonic prog band from France that had already released a couple of beautiful and excellent albums prior to this one. "Halloween" is, however, their crowning achievement. A spectacular and magnificent album. The two tracks spanning over 40 glorious minutes are maybe the shortest 40 minutes I have ever experienced. The musical experience is so immense and profound that time simply passes by, like the blink of an eye. Great mellotron, amazing keyboards of allsorts and excellent execution throughout makes this a somewhat out of this world experience.

It all begins with the high pitched vocals of a child, which is quite eerie, as quite a few sections are on this album, before the mellotron hits you. And then we're off. The romantic cover art (here I go again) says nothing about the journey you're about to take. This isn't soft prog or some pop infused semi-complex album. This is 100% symphonic prog that sweeps from gentle parts to harsher ones and into really elaborate and complex bits. I will not dissect the parts of the two epics. I will make do by saying that they are so well composed and form a whole that is unbelievable.

I tend to, as one should, shy away from giving albums the five star rating. That is unless it really, really deserves it. A five star rating in my book is an album with absolutely no flaw, no fillers, no boring parts and no annoying anything. This album is everything I hope for and dream of when it comes to progressive music. I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Thus I will award it five stars. This is impeccable and divine music. If you find this album, buy it. Just buy the bloody thing. It's prog heaven.

Report this review (#2120761)
Posted Thursday, January 24, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterful job !

I can easily understand that this album has disappointed many listeners. Such was the case with me, upon his discovery: "How? This thing, a masterpiece? It's a joke! " I did not understand. At the time, Yes was the pinnacle of prog. That is to say a complex music, performed by virtuosos. I kept Halloween for many years and I did well! Because almost thirty years later, by chance of my replaying, I finally grasped all the content.

The intro displeased me for a long time, if only because of some imperfection in the voice. Now, I understand that this imperfection is due to the youth of the performer (Sylvia Ekström was 7 years old!), and that this youth perfectly serves the purpose that the members of Pulsar had set for themselves.

Pulsar offers us a perfectly mastered work. The music is soft, subtle, melancholy and charged with emotion. (The middle section of Part 2, for example, touches the sublime.) The instrumentation is rich. In addition to traditional rock instruments, we hear piano, flute, clarinet and cello. The composition offers a series of admirably interwoven fluid movements and the final is beautiful. Special mention to the drummer who not only accompanies but actively participates in the atmosphere. While remaining discreet, he delivers us unconventional rhythms, bordering on polyrhythm.

Undeniably, the best French prog work and a must in the world of prog history.

Report this review (#2474691)
Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | Review Permalink

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