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Symphonic Prog • France

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Pulsar biography
In the early 70's the young French Prog scenario was full of competent bands that were being listened in and outside their country, and while most of them ascribed to the "French Theatric Symphonic", early PULSAR decided to re-create the sound of PINK FLOYD with that unique Gaulish sound with a lineup of competent musicians formed by Jacques Roman (organ, piano, synth), Victor Bosch (drums, percussion), Gilbert Gandil (guitar, vocals) and Philippe Roman (bass), but something was missing so they recruited the flutist and string musician Roland Richard.

Their 1974 debut "Polen", was acclaimed by most critics (despite the economic failure in the UK), who saw them as a breeze of fresh air, because they didn't limit themselves to copy a style, but added some Symphonic touches that gave them a special flavor.

But the big change (that justifies their inclusion in Symphonic) starts with their second release "The Strands of the Future" (1976) in which they turn into a quartet after Phillippe Roman left, leaving his brother Jaques in charge of the bass and keys. This new album presents us a new sound clearly influenced by iconic bands as YES and GENESIS with hints of Space Rock and a horror twist, that gained them respect in the elusive Great Britain.

With the inclusion of a new bass player (Michel Masson), PULSAR releases their third album "Halloween" (1977), which is considered by most of the fans af the peak of their career. The LP consists of two multi-movement suites, in which their fascination for Symphonic keeps growing, specially in "Halloween Part II) that reminds me of "Voyage of the Acolyte", with hints of Gustav Mahler, PINK FLOYD and the unique touch of PULSAR.

Normally I have a lot of problems with French albums due to the guttural language, but the guys of PULSAR manage to release an album in English with almost no accent. In my opinion "Halloween" is one of the top 10 albums from the Gauls.

From that point the band takes more time between albums and with less success, that's how they launch "Bienvenue au Conseil d'Administration" (1981) and Görlitz (1989), which are still good but not in the level of their initial three LP's.

Since then, everybody believed they would never give us a new album, PULSAR surprised the world with "Memory Ashes" (2007) featuring Gilbert Gandil, Jacques Roman, Victor Bosch and - Roland Richard, probably their best post "Halloween" album.

¿What's in the future of PULSAR?...
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Musea 1977
$22.50 (used)
The Strands Of The FutureThe Strands Of The Future
Musea 1976
The Strands Of The FutureThe Strands Of The Future
Musea 2003
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Musea 1989
$9.79 (used)
Bienvenue Au Conseil D'Administration !Bienvenue Au Conseil D'Administration !
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PULSAR discography

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PULSAR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.49 | 98 ratings
3.87 | 138 ratings
The Strands Of The Future
3.98 | 155 ratings
3.24 | 30 ratings
Bienvenue Au Conseil D'Administration
3.36 | 38 ratings
3.70 | 36 ratings
Memory Ashes

PULSAR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PULSAR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PULSAR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PULSAR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
Mélodie Boréale (By Jacques Roman)

PULSAR Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Halloween by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.98 | 155 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Pollen by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.49 | 98 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

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!

 The Strands Of The Future by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 138 ratings

The Strands Of The Future
Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by Kjarks

5 stars I'm not sure I can be very objective in my comment. I must admit I have a particular attachment for this record which enchanted my teenage years with its ethereal tones : somewhere between Pink Floyd and King Crimson, with some recollections of Hackett's Voyage of the acolyte.

Maybe it's a difficult, a very demanding record. More than the obviously and immediately fascinating "Halloween". But if you find how to sail on it, your trip will take you among magnificent dreamlike visions.

We are 1000 miles far from the luxuriant symphonism of Yes, ELP or Genesis. Here, the music is calmed but tourmented. The voice is beautiful and deep, nearly religious sometimes (more especially in the splendid "Window"). The music creates an ideal atmosphere for introspection and takes you like a large celestial river to cosmic landscapes without limits where you think time can not pass.

And when the soft waves of choirs of "Fool's failure" end, you know the dream is over but you feel calmed and reassured. Then, maybe you will think like me it's one of the 5 greatest records of french prog rock.

 Halloween by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.98 | 155 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 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*)

 The Strands Of The Future by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 138 ratings

The Strands Of The Future
Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 41

Pulsar is a French symphonic progressive rock band whose influences include several progressive rock groups, such as Pink Floyd, Genesis and King Crimson, plus diverse classical musical influences like Gustav Mahler. Pulsar is a master of mood and musical atmospheres and has been often compared to the early Pink Floyd. Like many of their French contemporaries, the Pulsar's music was in general characterized by extended musical suites with some dark musical atmospheres with a certain sense of grandeur and mood, painting grandiose and often horrific backdrops with mournful and sedate vocals. Within the symphonic progressive rock movement, Pulsar's fascination with dark musical atmospheres mixed with symphonic tendencies makes of their sound practically quite unique.

Pulsar became the French first group to be distributed by an English record label, which was called Kingdom Records. The name of the band was chosen by Philippe Roman, one of the founder members of the group. The choice of this name has two connections. The first, as coming from the Pulsars, which are highly magnetized rotating neutron stars that emit a beam of electromagnetic radiation, and the second corresponds to their new spatial musical style.

The line up of the band on this second studio album is Gilbert Gandil (lead vocals and guitars), Jacques Roman (organ, mellotron, bass and synthesizers), Roland Richard (piano, flute and strings) and Victor Bosh (drums and percussion). Philippe Roman (vocals, bass, and lyrics) who was one of the founders and one of the band's member who participated on their debut studio album 'Pollen' released in 1975, left the group in 1976 for health reasons. The future bassist of the band Michel Masson, which became a band's member only on their next third studio album 'Halloween', released in 1977, collaborated with the group on 'The Strands Of The Future'.

'The Strands Of The Future' is the second studio album of Pulsar and was released in 1976. It may be considered as a French progressive rock classic album, and which reflects a solid improvement compared to their debut musical work, 'Pollen'. The album launched Pulsar into the big scenarios of the French rock scene, selling 40.000 copies only in just six months. Pulsar became, only just behind of Ange, in one of the biggest French progressive rock groups, at the time. It allowed the band to sign a new contract with one of the biggest record labels, in that time, the American CBS.

'The Strands Of The Future' has four tracks. The first track is the title track 'The Strands Of The Future'. It's the lengthiest track on the album and it fills all the entire side of the original vinyl disc. This track is a truly masterpiece of the spatial rock and is without any doubt one of the best songs made by the group and, it can be regarded as one of the best progressive pieces made in the 70's. It's a fantastic progressive track, almost instrumental, with the few lyrics sung in French. This became an exception on this album. On their debut album the lyrics are almost all in French, but on this album, with this exception, all the lyrics are in English. The second track 'Flight' is an instrumental track and is the smallest song on the album. This is a very interesting piece of music in the style of the French progressive rock, with good combination of keyboards, flutes and strings. Despite its modest length, it features several different musical passages, which more or less, encapsulate the sound of the whole album in a couple of minutes. The third track 'Windows' is a melodic, symphonic and dense ballad with floating vocals and with a great, flute's work. It's a very gentle song, almost pastoral, with some moments of a real space travel voyage, which makes us dreaming. This is a mellow song that pointed forward to their next studio album. The fourth track 'Fool's Failure' is the second lengthiest track on the album. It opens with the space mellotron sounds and it's a very massive symphonic theme, which became a real great closing track for this album. This is a little bit dark and a mysterious song of the French symphonic rock. Somehow, 'Fool's Failure' recovers the magic of the opening track, thus making as a returning to its origins.

Conclusion: 'The Strands Of The Future' is an excellent album and a great evolution in relation to their debut musical work, 'Pollen'. It contains an extremely beautiful, spatial and symphonic progressive music in the same vein of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Eloy or Ange. The general musical atmosphere of the album is enhanced by some fantastic musical passages of mellotron. And of course, it has its title track, which is a truly masterpiece and represents, for me, the best track ever made by them. This is the album that puts Pulsar on the top of the French symphonic progressive rock music and at the same quality level of some other French symphonic progressive groups, such as Ange and Atoll. So, if you like Genesis, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, and in general of the spatial rock music, you mustn't miss this album in no way. It represents a great introduction to the Pulsar's world and to the French progressive rock music in general.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Pollen by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.49 | 98 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

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*)

 Memory Ashes by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.70 | 36 ratings

Memory Ashes
Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The veteran French proggers of Pulsar hadn't released a studio album in almost twenty years before their surprise reunion in 2007. Even more surprising was the fresh charge in their creative batteries, after two decades on the back shelf. This wasn't another aging band taking a final lap around the nostalgia circuit, but an older, wiser Pulsar: more relaxed but no less vital on their belated return to center stage, sounding like they had never been away.

The classic line-up from the 1970s was still intact. And the music, as always a melancholy blend of symphonic Space Rock, was richer and more romantic than ever. The four-part, twenty-six minute title track has to be one of the most easygoing epics ever written, trading the atmospheric energy of earlier Pulsar albums for gorgeous melodies and effortless rhythms: imagine a more celestial Bryan Ferry, wearing a NASA space helmet over his usual tuxedo.

It's true the music flirts at times with glossy New Age whitewash, but it also features moments of aching instrumental beauty, first heard in the opening minutes of lush, industrial ambiance (not an oxymoron, with this band). The luxurious keyboards of Jacques Roman, augmented by clarinet, cello, and a guest player credited simply with 'noise', help keep the suite from becoming too superficial. And the whole thing was very carefully arranged, flowing seamlessly between movements while gradually shifting the tempo upward (it never really rocks out, but achieves a nicely assertive groove by Part III).

The pair of remaining long tracks, which I like to imagine as Side Two of the album, are even stronger, and musically more varied. Guitarist Gilbert Gandil rediscovered his inner STEVE HACKETT in the song "Monks", in between the moody Gregorian chants. And the closing "Respire" is a lovely, late-Floydian throwback, beautifully rendered if fairly routine, until it drifts off into a ghostly epilogue: quintessential Pulsar, and showing no signs of tarnish after all these years.

The group has now recorded only six albums in a career approaching its fifth decade, an underachievement perhaps indicating the level of attention paid to every note of music they produce. From intro to coda this one resonates with echoes of Progressive Rock's bygone Golden Age, but in a fresher, more contemporary framework. Unlike the assembly-line recycling of so many Neo-Prog copycat bands, it succeeds in keeping the fading embers of our collective memory alive and glowing.

 Pollen by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.49 | 98 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Halloween by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.98 | 155 ratings

Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator 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.

 The Strands Of The Future by PULSAR album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.87 | 138 ratings

The Strands Of The Future
Pulsar Symphonic Prog

Review by rfill1

4 stars The first time I heard "The Strands of the Future", I was blown away by the mystic, grandeur and tragic aspects of their music. Their approach is similar to Pink Floyd's while retaining a distinct french symphonic flavour, with nods to Genesis and '69/ '70 King Crimson from time to time. You'd expect this to be either a mess or one more of those unimaginative symphonic french bands. They're neither of it. Perhaps it's just a matter of personal taste, but I feel Pulsar offers here lots of evocative soundscapes that speak to me in a way few other bands (or albums, for that matter) ever did.

If upon hearing the mesmerizing "The Strands of Future" suite you're not overblown with epicness and grandiosity and feeling goosebumps down your spine, there must be something wrong with you. It's such an intense and moving track, conjuring up tension and then releasing it in so many satisfying ways! It features some lyrics in french and the emotional delivery is just mesmerizing. I'd like to highlight Gilbert Gandil's guitar playing, which here seems to lie somewhere between Fripp and Hackett.

The second side begins with "Flight", a short Baroque-themed instrumental showcasing Gandil's traditional non-lyrical vocalizations, Jacques Roman's choral mellotron and Roland Richard's flute. It's simply flawless, as it sort of reprises the title suite.

The last two songs are very similar in mood and approach: both 8 to 10 minutes slow-to-mid tempo mellotron-led tracks, and both sung in English. "Windows" presents a mysterious and nostalgic mood, while "Fool's Failure" is more cynical and quite obscure at times.

Concluding, no matter how much I'm fond of this album, it still has two major flaws: firstly, the production is a bit faulty. I mean, I doubt more than half of french native speakers would be able to discern the buried-in-the-mix lyrics of the title suite. Secondly, Gandil's English singing sounds exactly like what you'd expect from a frenchman...

Nevertheless, you ought to give this album a go, even if just for the superb title track, which alone's worth buying the entire album.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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