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Pulsar - Halloween CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 184 ratings

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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.

Matti | 5/5 |


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