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POLLEN

Symphonic Prog • Canada


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Pollen biography
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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Peach TreePeach Tree
Grass Records 1997
Audio CD$18.48
$0.01 (used)
ChipChip
WEA/Fueled by Ramen 2012
Audio CD$4.49
$0.01 (used)
PollenPollen
Import
Ais 2005
Audio CD$21.40
$27.98 (used)
CrescentCrescent
Grass Records (Dead) 1995
Audio CD$17.99
$3.41 (used)
BluetteBluette
Grass Records (Dead) 1994
Audio CD$15.99
$1.72 (used)
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POLLEN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

4.13 | 114 ratings
Pollen
1976
3.69 | 14 ratings
Jacques Tom Rivest - Jacques Tom Rivest
1979

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

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POLLEN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Jacques Tom Rivest  - Jacques Tom Rivest   by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.69 | 14 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.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 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.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 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.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by BrufordFreak

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!

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 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.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 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.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 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".

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars This album is one of those hidden gems in this scene. The prog rock scene is full of them and it is difficult to find them. I was alerted to it by browsing the ProgArchives, the letter "P" section. The album soon landed on my doorstep.

The vocals are in French, this being a French-Canadian band. The music comes across as a bit Italian Prog Rock scene to me. PFM springs to mind. But the music is mostly a blend of their own style, GENESIS, YES, PENTACLE, CATHEDRAL and GENTLE GIANT. The music is therefore pretty varied. It changes from uptempo and pretty adventerous to moody pastorial ballads. The music is vocals and keyboards driven and the musicianship is pretty amazing as far as I can see.

This is not an over-the-top symphonic prog album. It is more song orientated than classical music orientated. It is still an album I really like. It is a fresh breath of air, compared to the English/American symphonic prog bands. POLLEN has their own style and it is a shame this is their only official album. This is an excellent addition to any prog rock collection. In particular; to my own collection.

4 stars

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 Jacques Tom Rivest  - Jacques Tom Rivest   by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.69 | 14 ratings

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Jacques Tom Rivest - Jacques Tom Rivest
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by Todd
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano!

4 stars What a wonderful surprise!

I love Pollen's album, so why did I wait so long before trying this one? I don't have a good answer--I'll have to chalk it up to the cover!

Tom Rivest, the vocalist/guitarist/main songwriter for Pollen, released this album a few years after the Pollen album was released. I think many of the elements of Pollen which I love--wonderful melody, thick textures, interesting harmonies--are present on this album, in a stripped down form. This album to my ears brings much of what I love about Pollen, but is more subtle and accessible. The flashy instrumentation, more complex arrangements, and complex time signatures are also downplayed. In fact in many respects this album reminds me of some of the other solo type projects that I love (Pierpaolo Bibbo, Enzo Capuano, and Anthony Phillips come immediately to mind).

Some of the highlights are La Langue De Son Pays, Voyage Au Tibet, and Messager Du Temps. If you love Pollen (or any of the artists I mentioned above), don't hesitate to give this album a try. I think you'll agree that it brings many many rewards.

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 Pollen by POLLEN album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.13 | 114 ratings

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Pollen
Pollen Symphonic Prog

Review by AdamHearst

4 stars Pollen's one and only album is a forgotten gem that more people need to investigate... they are as talented as any of the big-name bands. By far my favorite French-Canadian band, they're similar in style to the classic British Symphonic Prog bands mixed with the unique charm of French bands like Atoll, Pentacle, and Carpe Diem. 'Vieux corps de vie d´ange' starts off similar to Gentle Giant, with excellent dueling-Moog-and-guitar play; the first half of the song is very aggressive and complex. The musicianship is incredibly tight on every song, but here especially. The second half of the song is more subtle and is in a classic Symphonic Prog mold with wonderful synth playing, powerful droning organs, and lovely piano solos. The keyboardist is brilliant on every song. 'L´étoile' is slower; featuring beautiful acoustic guitars and Moog playing. It has the most touching and memorable vocal refrain on the entire album. The lyrics are all in French so i haven't a clue what he's saying... but i can tell it's heartfelt. The singer doesn't have the strongest voice, but it's pleasant in tone and he sings with great conviction and emotion. 'L´indien' is an atmospheric and meditative acoustic ballad; dream-like and blue... I would say the mood is a combination of 'Dust in the Wind' and 'Entangled' by Genesis. The second half of he album contains my two favorite songs: 'Tout l´temps' is upbeat with an almost 'Hatfield and the North' Canterbury-like feel... followed by 'Vivre la mort' which is much darker and reminds me somehow of Russian folk music. This song is led by an amazing organ riff and a relentless driving beat... growing more aggressive as the song goes, this contains some of the best Moog solos i've ever heard in my life! The intro of the final song 'La femme ailée' bears a passing resemblance to Pollen's fellow countrymen 'Harmonium'. I highly recommend this to all Symphonic Prog fans... especially those who like the French strain of the genre. 4.5 stars.

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