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Pulsar Pollen album cover
3.49 | 112 ratings | 19 reviews | 10% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pulsar (3:00)
2. Apaisement (7:30)
3. Puzzle / Omen (8:00)
4. Le Cheval De Syllogie (7:00)
5. Pollen (13:05)

Total Time: 38:35

Line-up / Musicians

- Gilbert Gandil / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Jacques Roman / piano, organ, ARP synth
- Rolland Richard / flute, String Ensemble
- Philippe Roman / bass, vocals
- Victor Bosch / drums, percussion

- Carmel Williams / voice (3)

Releases information

Artwork: Logo

LP Kingdom Records ‎- KY 28 031 (1975, France)

CD Musea ‎- FGBG 4015.AR (1990, France)
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE 121933 (2012, Japan) Remastered by Kazunori Ohara

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PULSAR Pollen ratings distribution

(112 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(10%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

PULSAR Pollen reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Very much a space-rock album as the following will be a lot more prog in the strictest sense. This is a very quiet and slow developping album sounding a bit like Floyd , but some number seem to take even longer to develop than Crazy Diamonds , if you can believe it ( and never comes close to that in Floyd quality standards), but the actual ambiance, if you let yourself sink into their Pulsating world, can grab you, and not release you that easily.

Certainly not essential, and quite different to their future albums, this debut is certainly worth a spin.

Review by Proghead
5 stars Incredible, if not a bit underrated debut from this French prog band. The music here tends to be mellow, but a bit more experimental than their following albums. This is their only album where they sing in French (their following albums, they sing so unintelligibly, you can't tell if they're singing in English or French, or both - but of course, those are great albums too). The only English you here here is some spoken dialog. The keyboard setup is basically the Solina string synths, the ARP 2600 synthesizer, and piano. Oddly the Mellotron isn't present here (but is on their following two albums). Mainly mellow prog, this is great stuff, and a classic debut.
Review by soundsweird
2 stars I already had the second and third albums, and thought there was some pretty good (if derivative) material on them. So, when I upgraded from LP's to CD's, I got this one, too. The various elements that make an album good or bad (musicianship, composition, sound quality, level of originality, etc.) come up short on this album. I would have to describe their efforts on this debut as amateurish; consequently, this CD has gone into the "Sell" box.
Review by loserboy
5 stars One of the great French Prog bands was PULSAR who brought symphonia and space together to create some of the most enduring music of the 70's. Pretty clear FLOYD influences on this album who also acted as quite a catalyst for PULSAR in fact over the years. ''Pollen'' was the first album PULSAR officially released and represents a true milestone in French progressive rock. ''Pollen'' ebbs and flows with some fantastic analog symphonic passages, delicate flute and addictive acoustic/electric guitar, bass and drum interplay.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Pulsar is, IMHO, one of the most accomplished prog acts to ever come out of France. Their discography's peak albums are among the most captivating symphonic prog albums of all time, but their style was initially more focused on the space prog trend, and that's the general sign of their debut album "Pollen". Taking some noticeable influences from Pink Floyd, their sonic basis bears a typically French vibe that is shared with Carpe Diem (1st album) and Atoll. Generally speaking, "Pulsar" is an excellent effort, despite lacking the magical exquisiteness of their next two albums, the gems "The Strands of the Future" and "Halloween". The main motifs and musical arrangements bear a higher degree of finesse than many other bands' debut albums, although the sound engineering feels a bit too rustic at times, which somehow keeps the sonic environment to come to its full fruition. The instrumental track that is titled after the band itself erupts as an electrifying astral travel turned into rock: the pulsating bass and the interplay between guitar and synth are so unearthly. this 3 minute long track really feels too short. Following is 'Apaisement', a haunting prog ballad that gives introspection a majestic vibe, in no small degree due to the wise use of those dreamy synth layers that go floating on and on across the air, bringing an extension to the lead vocalist's melancholy. A special mention goes to the beautiful flute solo in the end, typical Pulsar at its most pastoral. Next comes one of the most complex pieces in the album, 'Puzzle / Omen', which kicks off with a prog fanfare led by Gandil's powerful guitar lines, so energetic and cosmic. Then comes a 5/4 motif sustained on a jazzy cadence, with highlighted lines on guitar, synth and flute. The slower section includes the recited omen by guest Carmel Williams, after which a Floydian dreamy motif enters and displays an aura of languid sophistication right towards the end. The album's second half comprises the most mysterious ambiences of the album. It begins with 'Le Cheval de Syllogie', a piece full of dense, somber atmospheres that allow the band explore their spacey vibe a bit further than on any of the previous tracks. Things get gradually more intense as the track progresses: the distorted recitation sounds like a robotic wizard. The namesake track that closes down the album is also the longest one. It is a majestic progressive ballad that follows in a similar introspective vein to track 2, although developing it with a bigger dose of intensity and incorporating an increased inventiveness in the adornments, ultimately, leaning closer to the album's predominant space prog tone. A special mention has to go to the flute interventions, captivating beyond words. The final synth sounds, emulating sea waves crashing against rocks during a windy winter night, appropriately echo the song's overall contemplative mood. "Pollen" is an excellent album, indeed: a most dignified anticipation of even more brilliant things to come. Pulsar is one of France's greatest, no doubt about it.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Very much Floydian sounds for this good spacey and atmospheric album from this French band.

Music is VERY quiet but really pleasant. Submerged with keys and featuring good fluting as well. Some "Ange" influences as well ("Apaisement") during which the flute play from Roland Richard is just sublime. One of my fave.

The jazzy and flute start of "Puzzle/Omen" might relate this number with some "Tull" ones, but the song will evolve into some sort of medieval fable in which the text is more recited than sung, in English this time although that the other tracks are sung in French). Very melodic and symphonic finale. Sumptuous.

If, like me, you are an ASOS maniac (the track), you will be in heaven when listening to the intro of "Le Cheval De Syllogie". The second half though will plunge you into sort sorts of apocalyptic mood. Synthetized vocals makes the story very difficult to understand.

The "pièce de résistance" of this album is inevitably the closing and epic number: "Pollen". A great and tranquil trip. A good combination of space and symphonic rock. But it is the same for the whole album actually.

This album might lack in diversity but it is a rather encouraging debut one. Three stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Obscure French progressive rock legends formed in early 70's in Lyon.They were named after the phenomenon of the dark sun in outer space,showing some evidence of their developing sound.Entering 1975 PULSAR released the LP ''Pollen'' with the famous cosmic cover.Finally people could listen to what PULSAR were all about.The spacey atmosphere of PINK FLOYD was wrapped around symphonic textures with slow-tempo arrangements,sometimes led by atmospheric synthesizers (think of KLAUS SCHULZE),other ones by trully mournful vocals and haunting spoken parts.Every guitar solo in this release is very emotional,some instrumental parts are dominated by superb flutes,while I'm totally surprised by the deep and dark bass lines of Phillipe Roman.Not accidentally the production of this work is quite moody,pushing PULSAR's sound to a darker and more psychedelic level.A trully personal and marvellous release,which appeal to fans of imaginative soundscapes and psychedelic sounds.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I happened to find this french band album by pure chance. I was looking of the band Pollen when I mistakenly got Pulsar´s Pollen album. And I liked it. An interesting mix of space rock and symphonic prog, with some eletronic bits thrown in for good measure. There is a strong influence of King Crimson (around the time of their debut, of course) and some Pink Floyd too. The music is laid back and melodic, with nice vocals sung in french. Nothing very original or groundbreaking, but very good anyway. It is interesting how strong those cuts are, for they actually stood very well the test of time when most of those groups did not (except the spoken words part on the final track. They DO sound very dated, but I can live with that).

Some very good flute, fine keyboards and little eletronic effects that reminds me a lot of The Court Of The Crimson King and In The Wake Of Poseidon. Even the production is similar. But don´t go looking for a copycat, because Pulsar is not. They just have a kindred spirit.

Pollen is a good CD that deserves some atention from progheads (specially the ones who like those late 60´s/early 70´s bands). I´m looking forward to hear the CD´s follow ups. My final rating is something between 3,5 and 4 stars. Recommended.

Review by friso
3 stars Pulsar - Pollen (1975)

This is the debut of French symphonic/space rock act Pulsar. The music of Pollen on the debut has many long symphonic baths, slow paced compositions and an atmospheric approach. The emotions projected are often that of melancholy and sadness. The band seems to be inspired by the symphonic space rock of Pink Floyd.

The guitars sound a bit like a slightly distorted moog, the vocals are very dreamy, the rhythms section a bit vague (due to indirect recording sound) and the synths are relatively warm and ever-present. The flutes here an there are a nice distraction from the otherwise too electronic sound of the band. The French vocals, with their long howls, suit the music and give it an artistic sound. Perhaps a bit like some of the post-rock of the 21th century.

The record is recorded in a 'low volume'-way, you can put your stereo as loud as possible; but the music still sounds quiet and easy-going. A bit strange perhaps, but it's the effect of the very dreamy production. A good record for a Sunday morning.

Conclusion. An mediocre symphonic/space rock record that has as main attraction it's slow, atmospheric space passages with dreamy French vocals. The compositions is adequate, but never ground-braking. Three stars. I'm interested in the two higher rated follow-up albums.

Review by Warthur
3 stars A reasonable but not spectacular debut for Pulsar. Appropriate to the band's name, the musical style here is firmly in the space rock vein, tending towards the quiet, dreamy atmospheres of Pink Floyd as opposed to the chugging fury of Hawkwind. The vocals, to be honest, add nothing, and the flute work of Roland Richard seems rather aimless and unsatisfying. However, the keyboard work is wonderfully evocative, and the band are clearly onto something - though what it is seems rather hard to grasp, especially since as soon as the music stops I struggle to recollect what I've just heard. Pulsar here attain the dreaminess of space rock but fail to attain the power, majesty, and memorableness of the best works in the field, with the result that the album falls rather in the middle of the road. There's talent here, but it's not in full flower yet.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Everything changed for this band when they saw PINK FLOYD live in concert . At that time they were called FREE SOUND and they quickly started doing FLOYD covers. It wasn't until the spring of 1971 that the band decided to stop doing FLOYD covers and start making their own music. With this change they decided to change their name as well to PULSAR. So not surprisingly the debut here does bring PINK FLOYD to mind at times. This is laid back, spacey music with flute and when they breakout we get fuzzed out guitar expressions. The vocals are in French. The band knew David Sinclair (CARAVAN) who had a girlfriend in the town they lived in called Lyon. David played often with the band during rehearsals. He suggested they contact Kingdom Records the label that CARAVAN and KHAN were signed to. So they did and became the first French band to be distributed by an English label.

"Pulsar" opens with spacey sounds and drums arrive a minute in. This reminds me of FLOYD. Explosions 2 1/2 minutes in and the sound of someone running and breathing heavily. Cool section. "Apaisement" opens with spacey sounds as guitar, cymbals and bass join in. Reserved vocals too. This is dreamy stuff. The vocals stop but return before 4 1/2 minutes. Flute replaces the vocals 5 1/2 minutes in. "Puzzle / Omen" has these spacey winds blowing early then they are replaced by a full rich sound with guitar and drums out front. It settles in at 1 1/2 minutes with a beat and flute. Synths come in too with vocal melodies. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in with spoken words, piano and vocal melodies. The spoken words stop around 6 minutes as spacey synths lead. It turns heavy after 7 1/2 minutes.

"Le Cheval De Syllogie" is spacey with organ then it picks up with drums and a full sound before 1 1/2 minutes. Fuzzed out guitar too. Spacey keyboards then take over. A calm before 3 1/2 minutes with creepy vocals. They stop and it picks back up before 6 minutes. "Pollen" is the 13 minute closer. Strummed guitar to start which is replaced by a full sound quickly. Nice. It settles with flute after 2 minutes. Reserved vocals before 3 minutes with acoustic guitar, floating organ and bass. Vocals are back 7 minutes in. They stop at 9 1/2 minutes as the flute comes in then fuzzed out guitar a minute later.

This is my kind of music. If your into dreamy psychedelia then you need to check this out.

Review by stefro
3 stars Featuring a mixture of symphonic influences and dreamy space-rock, Pulsar's slow-burning debut would mark the French outfit out as one of the few European progressive rock group's not to borrow heavily from their own country's musical heritage, instead brewing up a distinctly British-style sound strongly informed by the mid- seventies work of Pink Floyd. Released in 1975 and issued on the British Kingdom Records imprint, 'Pollen' proved to be a remarkable debut, showcasing a densely ethereal, almost mystical collage of symphonic rock and psychedelia brought about by the group's judicious use of mellotrons, synthesizers and effects-warped guitars. Although sung entirely in French, 'Pollen', like much of Pulsar's 1970's output, proves to be a surprisingly accessible record, eschewing the arty aesthetic that colours much of the decades European prog and proving very different to the jazz-and-folk inspired sounds of fellow internationally-renowned French group's Magma and Ange. As a result, Pulsar found genuine commercial success, at least until the onset of punk rock, and toured regularly throughout both Britain and Europe thanks to the impact of 'Pollen', it's similarly-themed predecessor 'Strands Of The Future' and the group's seminal 1978 release 'Halloween'. Pulsar's landmark album and one of the finest European efforts, 'Halloween' would prove the culmination of Pulsar's talents, expanding the woozy, keyboard-drenched style featured on 'Pollen' into one epic song-suite. As a result, many see both 'Pollen' and 'Strands Of The Future' as a kind of dry run for 'Halloween', and although 'Halloween' is indeed the group's key achievement there is still much to recommend on both of it's carefully-carfted predecessors. Rather unfairly, Pulsar are often tagged 'the French Pink Floyd', yet that label seems to be missing the point. Pulsar's dreamy and highly-atmospheric brand of spacey progressive rock proves a truly singular experience, featuring carefully-layered instrumental sections, plenty of dazzling effects and some remarkable vocal contributions from bassist Gilbert Gandil. It's certainly an album that demands multiple listens - especially so for non-French speakers - yet the music proves so affecting on it's own that understanding the lyrics is not a major issue. The music is strong enough to stand on it's own. Just imagine Pink Floyd jamming with Klaus Schulze and German outfit Novalis and you're halfway there. As a result, all three of Pulsar's albums upto-and-including 'Halloween' are well worth discovering for fans of lush symphonic-style progressive rock, with 'Pollen' the perfect introduction to this excellent French group. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Pulsar was another continental band that got a late jump in the Progressive Rock derby, releasing their debut album in 1975, not long before the Golden Age of Prog began showing its first signs of rust. Even so it was probably too soon for the group to enter a recording studio. At this stage of their musical evolution they were still a couple of years and at least one session away from producing a masterpiece.

The album is maybe too easy to criticize in retrospect. Keep in mind this was a young and talented band, struggling with their footing at the starting gate. The result was a pleasant but undistinguished collection of nebulous, Floydian space rock, infused with a drifting Gallic romanticism, best heard in Roland Richard's pastoral flute and the Hackett-like guitar sustains of Gilbert Gandil.

Later albums would raise the style to the acme of Symphonic Rock perfection. But this first effort was the cut-rate, economy model, hampered by lazy songwriting and by its typically unsophisticated mid- '70s production, limited to an overgenerous application of reverb and the occasional sound effect: thunder, ominous footsteps, and something not unlike a toy train whistle, oddly interrupting the title track. Listeners of a certain age will smile when hearing the cosmic poetry recitation in "Puzzle/Omen" (" we are, prisoners of unknown time and souls..."), and enjoy an affectionate laugh at the cybernetic narration of "Le Cheval de Syllogie", thankfully declaimed in the band's native tongue.

The ambition was clearly there, but lacked a basic grasp of large-scale musical structure and design: even the mini-epic title track is almost impossible to remember in detail afterward. A bigger budget and better equipment might have made a difference, but what the band really needed was a little more time to mature and develop. With hindsight, the album can still be enjoyed as a necessary prelude to upcoming classics, and as a crudely framed but picturesque snapshot of European Prog Rock near the mid-decade height of its popularity.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 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*)

Review by ALotOfBottle
3 stars Pollen is a debut album of a French symphonic rock band Pulsar. The band's music bears strong resemblance to what is said to have been their original musical inspiration - namely Pink Floyd (covers of whom the band played when they started out) and Genesis. Still lacking a very defined and distinct sound, band appears to be fluent in space rock jams infused with various synthesizers. All of the tracks are throughoutly melodic with an already mentioned strong symphonic feel to them.

"Pulsar", a self-titled track marks the very first appearance of an awfully high-pitched synthesizer sound that is going to appear throughout the rest of the whole album. I find its tone dreadfully ear-soring and unpleasant. The overall feel of this song is familiar, sharing common elements with some of Pulsar's contemporaries. "Apaisemen" is where French vocals kick in. I feel these are not of the highest quality. Not shrill, but rather dull and uninteresting. This tune has a very Peter Gabriel-like flute part painted on canvas in form of smooth, mellow string synthesizes. "Puzzle/Omen" is again drenched with previously mentioned synthesizers and features (this time in English) a female spoken poem part. This resolves to a catchy, cinematic-sounding melody again, inspired by Genesis and maybe even Camel. All this topped with a very spacey feeling. "Le Cheval De Syllogie" is in my conjecture the best track on the album. It starts out with superb, dark electronic sounds. Than the melody comes with a superb guitar part and lush organ backing. This track is kept in a Van Der Graaf Generator-esque mood. "Pollen" is a more feminine, quitet and acoustic song with decent flute playing and sadly weak vocals.

In conclusion, Pulsar's debut album is flawed to some extent. The band seems to have felt a bit too comfortable with electronic effects which (at times used unprofficlently) ruin potentially enjoyable moments. At moments lacking, sometimes exposing the shortage of experience, this shares many blemishes with other bands still looking for their sound. However, it does have some very neat moments to it. The follow-up of this one is a much better effort! Three stars!

Latest members reviews

4 stars One of the best debut's to come out of any band; and a virtually unknown band!! Pollen's certainly the most experimental to come out of Pulsar's discography. Super spacey, rocking in some parts (when needed), eerily beautiful, emotional vocals (many will have to grow accustomed to his strong French ... (read more)

Report this review (#776628) | Posted by Raccoon | Sunday, June 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Music of Pulsar is very quiet indeed turn its peaceful and progressive rock space rock symphony. "Pulsar" is the sound of synthesizers with explosions, buitages, very sharp., "Appeasement" is sung in French, the lyrics are very poetic and illusory, soft and refined. "Puzzle / Omen" still a ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#235232) | Posted by Discographia | Wednesday, August 26, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Pulsar would become a very good band during the course of their next couple of albums, but this debut is shoddy at best. You can tell there is great potential here... they would rise to meet this potential on their next album. But as for 'Pollen': the drums are very weak, unforgivably weak, ... (read more)

Report this review (#202332) | Posted by AdamHearst | Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Polen" is the first album of PULSAR.The sound is unique and dark,meditative,romantic.The music is not technical but wonderful.I couldn't believe this is the debut album. 「Puzzle/Omen」,「Le Cheval De Syllogie」 has a mysterious and weird power.The title track is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#83591) | Posted by braindamage | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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