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POLLEN

Symphonic Prog • Canada


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POLLEN was a Canadian four-some that released only one album of symphonic progressive in the seventies. They were from the Quebecois progressive scene and were perhaps the most-known Canadian symphonic group with HARMONIUM but their music is much purely rooted in the symphonic genre than their countrymen, whose music is more folk-oriented. The group consisted of Jacques Tom Rivest (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards), Richard Lemoyne (electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards), Claude Lemay (keyboards, flute, bass, vibraphone, vocals) and Sylvain Coutu (drums, vibraphone).

The only album was released in 1976. It is a very good keyboard dominated symphonic album. They remind me mostly of the English groups like YES, GENTLE GIANT and ELP but not really distinctly any of these groups. In addition, they also have some of that typical French sound and similarity to the seventies French symphonic groups such as CARPE DIEM. The vocals are in French, which is common for the French Canadian groups. This album is nicely varied albeit not very original.

POLLEN is essential Quebecois symphonic progressive. Recommended!

: : : Markus Mattsson, FINLAND : : :

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POLLEN discography


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

4.13 | 132 ratings
Pollen
1976
3.68 | 15 ratings
Jacques Tom Rivest - Jacques Tom Rivest
1979

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POLLEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by poito

4 stars This is a genuine 70's old-school prog album with nearly all elements, great musicianship, superb composition?and obvious influences from Genesis and the like. As I said in other cases, how much would you pay to go back in time and have early Genesis releasing half a dozen additional albums? Here is one. Now, it comes the hard moment when one has to give score. Would these guys have had the same magic had they not listened to Genesis ever? Should we give 4 or 5 stars and make this album rivaling the Master of Masters Selling England? Is that fair? We tend to score by the quality of the album within each band's production, and forget easily that all-time top albums are given the same score. Anyway, this is a 4.5, by own merits. My favorite track is L'Etoile. You'll play it once and again. There is a magic in crescendo you'll never forget. It's one of those moments in life when you know something will inhabit your brain forever, even if it reminds you of the omnipresent ones. Trust me.
 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The music alone could be worthy of five stars. Almost. This is Pollen, a French Canadian group formed in 1971 who opened for the likes of Gentle Giant and Camel before finally getting their one and only album out in 1976. They broke up before the year was through.

The music is symphonic prog and in my opinion sounds closest to some of classic Genesis' busiest and heavier moments, though there are quieter moments of flute, piano, classical guitar and organ. There are also some spacey effects that turn up in the first two tracks. Songs like "Vieux corps de vie d'ange" and "La femme ailée" give the band room to stretch out and explore their musical potential in both heavy and light areas. But diversity runs throughout the album with Genesis influences cropping up here and there.

But while the music makes itself easily worthy of four or five stars with some top notch symphonic prog, it's the vocals that I'm afraid pull the album down a little. Jacques Tom Rivest puts a lot of power into his singing and at best manages to almost do a French Peter Gabriel ("L'étoile") or pack some sweet emotion in at the right moment ("L'indien"). Unfortunately there are a good number of times where his vocals sound forced but lacking something. Perhaps he could have left out some of the oohs, aahhh, and other vocalizations meant to emphasis feeling.

Nevertheless, his singing is not so off that it's excruciating to hear. It's just that of all the Rock progressif québécois bands I've heard so far (seven and counting), Monsieur Rivest's vocals are a notch or two below the others.

Aside from that, most of the music here is quite a ride. My personal favourite is "Vivre la mort" which I guess would be "Long Live Death" in English. The beginning is a bit unassuming with its organ and Rivest's impassioned vocals. But once he lets rip with a rather gripping scream, the music takes a turn and becomes what is for me some spine chillingly excellent prog rock. There's one part where the synthesizer sears in with such subtlety it's like a laser cutting into the base of my skull. Exciting stuff!

Highly recommended for most of the music. Hopefully you can deal with the vocals well enough.

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by VOTOMS

4 stars Review nº 227

Pollen - self titled

4.5/5 actually

A canadian band singing in french sounding like rock progressivo italiano? Yes. What a fabulous symphonic album. Beautiful album art indeed. Pollen music offers symphonic electricity and light technical rock, adding acoustic folk and pastoral tendencies. The final solution is an almost full star album. They're playing real rock but seems they're gettin soft with their instrument. It's a great album to listen when you're not in the mood for something heavy but still want some high grade prog rock. The vocals reminds me of Eloy, but french lyrics. The first track (Vieux corps de vie d´ange) and the last (La femme ailée) are the lenghty tracks, and seems the band effort grows higher there, and they have the most memorable moments of the work. Well, it is not an innovative album, but pleasent, very very well done featuring plenty of sapid tips. Reccomended for fans of the R.P.I. genre. It shares similarities with artists such as Museo Rosenbach.

 Jacques Tom Rivest  - Jacques Tom Rivest   by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.68 | 15 ratings

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Jacques Tom Rivest - Jacques Tom Rivest
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by progbaby

4 stars Wow!! Where'd this album come from?

I dug out my Pollen cd the other day that I have had for years. For some reason, I never gave it the chance it deserved. It sounded great. Especially the accoustical ballads by Jacques Tom Rivest.

Then I came here and saw that he had a solo album. Much to my delight, I went to my favorite online purchasing web site and noticed they had an mp3 version of this 1979 album available for under $10.

So I bought it. 1 listen and I knew this was a good album. There's a few throw away tracks but for the most part, the album is really good. Not one amazing track but most all good/very good.

The album has some serious melancholic overtones along with some wonderful melodies to boot. I don't speak French but I don't believe this to be a cheerful album. Nice accoustical passages and trimmed down keyboards. Good/strong melodies.

I agree with the other reviewers of this with the comparisons to Capuano, etc...

I'd like to add another comparison to the album Antico Teatro Da Camera (1975) by Gianni D'Errico. You can find a review of that on progarchives. That one (like this one) is a total lost gem of accoustical melancholic ballads with prog elements. That one is essential just like this (sadly Gianni was killed before the release of that album which makes it even more intense to listen to).

Anyhow this album was a pleasant surprise and a big thumbs up. Its amazing (with all this great music that is undiscovered) that Justin Bieber/Lady Gaga/Miley Cyrus will get millions of sales from their albums but an album like this will go unnoticed/unheard. It's a shame.

Buy this without hesitation if you like Pollen and/or melancholic accoustical based ballads with prog elements. Don't take my word, you can go and find sound samples on this at your favorite merchant. That's what I did :-) I listend to a few of the 30 second sound samples and said "Ok, I'm buying it!!". Nice purchase.

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

3 stars What it is about prog that is so endearing to me is a number of things, as for most people. Taste is highly subjective but also connected to timing and emotional state at the time of listening. Maybe I wasn't attentive enough the first time I heard Pollen. I guess I wasn't. Really.

It's been a long time coming, me breaking this album and taking time to grasp it properly. I acquired it a long time ago and have grasped it, bit by bit, over the years. At first I found it a bit too awkward, askew and frankly too metallic in flavor. I missed the warmth. Now, however, I do know what I think of the album and thus I feel ready to deliver my judgement. The debut album by Pollen is something extraordinaire. That is a genuine belief of mine, although I obviously "only" award it three stars. I will tell you why I think like I do.

The instrumentation and delivery of it all is outstanding. The boys in the band possess a tone and identiity that is theirs, yet they do show off quite an ability to master other styles of prog connected to certain bands, in not so small a part Genesis, I would think. There is complexity enough to keep any prog fan happy but there's also quite alot of accessibility. The blend of those two spectrums make the album very enjoyable indeed. I think Pollen is unique enough to stand out, yet, like I wrote, their inspiration or inspirations are quite clear.

The album kicks off with "Vieux corps de vie d´ange". The thing is that this particular track holds a riff (or introductional theme) that is gloriously askew and if not dissonant, then at least severely demented. It is scary, agressive and threatening. When the vocals kick in, which they do almost from the start, it only adds to the general feeling of discomfort. It may sound as if I'm not that keen on this track but I am. It is a great, thumping piece of music. Dark, threatening and powerful. Lovely start of a record and prog in the best of ways. After "Vieux corps de vie d ´ange" three tracks follow that, though by no means bad, still do not carry the inspiration and fire of the first song. Enjoyable but that is it.

And then they come, the last two of the bunch: "Vivre la mort" and "La femme ailée". What we have here, beloved proggers, are two amazing tracks. "Vivre la mort" starts with a great organ riff and vocals. I am getting reminded of Genesis "Trespass" album here and that is not bad, since Pollen are elaborate enough to envelop and develop that sound to something of their own. I have no words, really. Simply fabolous.

The last track, "La femme ailée", is the true epic of the album with really lovely keyboard passages and great vocals. The keyboards remind me of Rick Wakeman and the sound is close to Yes at times. Complex, melodic and shifting.

Conclusion: Out of the six tracks on the album three are amazing and the rest is okay. Perfectly executed but not really all that memorable. The last two tracks are the true winners, full of prog ability and wonder. I love those two tracks to bits and have not been able to crawl my way out of it's grip for days. The album is, however, not flawless. After hearing it I seldom feel I want to hear it all over again. I pick out, mostly, the last two and maybe I'll head for the opening track, once I've enjoyed those. Maybe the album isn't varied enough? Well, it is. It just doesn't hit it off completely with me. Still, I would really recommend anyone to get acquainted with the album. It is a good album, even brilliant at times. 50% of the times, actually. That is why award the album, three stars. Brilliant at times, just not solid enough.

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by Menswear
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Phenomenal.

Again, being from Quebec, I snobbed the song of my own land, and I repent. Sincerely, the Quebec scene of the 70's is simply astonishing, revealing gems one after another. Pollen is not an exception, and I would say they should be on top of the list for beginners. They sound very Tony Banks' work in Genesis, and since he's my favorite keys player ever, I cannot but clap my hands in synch with the music. They also manage to blend a wee bit of Gentle Giant and ELP, but the main melody maker is the fabulous keyboard playing of Rivest! He's prodigious!

Speaking french myself I cannot pass through the lyrics without commenting: have they been disappointed by religion? They have a strong chip on the shoulder of the Catholic Church, with provoking lyrics (for the time) saying that Priests fooled them and the people have to pay the bill now. Considering the mentality of Quebec, this must have been a kick in the arse for the concerned and an appeal to youngsters who didn't want to follow their parents' religion. Wow indeed.

For a dynamic dose of keys and some of the best Genesis riffs (they never wrote), grab this cookie when you see it. No baloney.

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team

5 stars Why this album hasn't gotten more attention est une mystère misterioso. I can't figure. A wonderful collection of original music using familiar Genesis sounds from the Nursery Cryme-through-Selling England by the Pound period.

The opener, "Vieux Corps de vie d´Ange" (8/10) has quite a wonderful climax section?incredibly powerful singing.

"L'étoile" (9/10) has a very Genesis feel to it from the very start with its picked 12-strings and Hackett-like volume pedaled electric guitar notes. As the air turns more festive a Rhodes piano takes a turn at some simple solo. Then, at 2:25, for a brief time, full scale unleash of the Selling England by the Pound/Dark Side of the Moon effect. Beautiful song.

"L'indien" (7/10) is a more laid-back almost droning song from the HARMONIUM school of acoustic-based prog. Pretty; no complaints; probably would be more meaningful and impactful were I to try to listen to lyrics.

"Tout le temps" (8/10) has a little GENTLE GIANT feel and sound to it?though not so complex or sophisticated, just similar sounds. Love the dueling keyboards in the middle?harpsichord and organ! A little 'Harold the Barrel" feel there! Add horn-delay keyboard and you've got a little prog magic going on there!

"Vivre la mort" (8/10) starts out a little too much like a French "Get 'em Out by Friday" (a Genesis song that I've never really liked). Luckily, the song is saved by a simply marvelous second half instrumental section in which all players are adding to a rather YES-like electronic mayhem.

"La femme ailée" (10/10) begins very delicately with some classical guitar accompanying the breathy Kenny Loggins-like vocalist. Vocal harmonies and organ are added to great effect while the acoustic guitar continues to steal the show. Beautiful! Brilliant, delicate, multi-layered, complex "Cinema Show"-like song!

This album has grown on my greatly since I first heard it?to the point that I hold it right up there alongside?or above?Nursery Cryme and Voyage of the Acolyte?the two albums it most reminds me of. This is a masterpiece of prog!

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A one album wonder from the Quebec scene, Pollen's sole album finds them playing a style of symphonic prog structured heavily around the guitar work of Richard Lemoyne, whose style sounds to me a bit like a blend between Steve Hackett and Steve Howe's. As others have noted, a pastoral Genesis influence is appreciable, though to my ears Pollen seem to take a somewhat more accessible sound than classic-era Genesis. As others have noted, the vocals on the album are arguably the weak point, but otherwise this is competently performed (if not stellar) symphonic prog which should be of particular interest to those exploring the Quebec prog scene.
 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This album features sublime instrumental parts, wholly reminiscent of the "Trespass" era of whom you might know.

It is another story during some vocals "interludes". I don't know if Rivest was forcing his abilities, but as far as I'm concerned he was quite average in his vocal duties (except during the superb "L'Etoile") and his accent is quite difficult to bear. But to come back to "L' Etoile", the magnificent keyboard melody raises this song to another level, indeed.

There aren't any weak tracks featured on this album and thanks to some wonderful parts it really keeps up on the good side. At times the music turns out to be more jazz oriented ("Tout L'Temps" - Always) although some instrumental parts are totally borrowed to "Genesis". Too much really.

"Vivre La Mort" is quite an experience though: wild beat, heavy organ for a while, combined with such delicate guitar for a while. The closing section is an absolute and brilliant hymn to electric guitar prog solo. A great moment of music for sure.

The closing epic "La Femme Ailée" is quite a good musical moment to share: complex instrumental interplay (KC is not too far, even if "Genesis" is again present at almost any corner). A very good way to close this effort. A combination of "Cinema Show" with some church organ, scary mood and some great guitar. What else do we need?

I would rate this album with seven out of ten because it borrows a lot to some giants we all love. Since this more accurate rating is still not available, I will raise it to four stars.

 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 132 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog_Veteran

4 stars So many treasures in 70's Québec scene! POLLEN is one of them who grabs me more in spite of not being the most original. The evident basis comes from Yes/Genesis formula; it works pretty with the French theatrical (PENTACLE, MONA LISA) influence.

The music is in surreal/ fantastic field with great vocals, maybe more accessible, so with repeated listens it tends to run out, unlike more adventurous Canadian SLOCHE, MANEIGE (with GG influence) or SYMPHONIC SLAM (the 3 first linked tracks are quite original and over shine the rest of the album, they are prog classics to me) or TRUE MYTH. I'd like to thank the Canadian guys who created PA site and all maintenance world team!

My favorite Pollen tracks are "vivre la mort" and "la femme ailée" (the conclusion is a killer hymn). But I like the entire album, delicious prog ! I'm glad this obscure album gets many reviews here. There are more obscure and underrated Québecois like EDEN (***) and MILKWEED (Sergio Gonçalves failed to conclude themes, so I give only **). My vinyl pick up is broken, I intend to review later HARMONIUM " l' heptade" I want to listen my double vinyl brazilian edition (I really don't know how, but there was a little edition here, believe me !) carefully, I know this is the most original or folk Canadian band. Oh yeah I love "si on avait?" but give my 5 stars to Sloche "j'un oeil".

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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