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Pollen - Pollen CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 177 ratings

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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.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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