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Pulsar - Halloween CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.03 | 184 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The moody French space-rockers of Pulsar made a splash with their 1976 sophomore LP, "The Strands of the Future". And they were able to maintain their creative momentum long enough to produce this masterpiece the following year...just in time to be rudely shoved off the musical map at the tail end of the decade.

Too bad, because this effort was a big step beyond even the excellent "Strands", showing a rare combination of fire and refinement, all of it displayed to good advantage in a crystal-clear production, one of the best of its era. The album has an imposing structural integrity as well, beginning with 11- minutes of maybe the most dramatic music ever released under the greater Prog umbrella (play it loud if you don't believe me), and concluding a half-hour later with another tense, altogether cinematic blow out, marred only by the 'spooky' synthesizer wail at the start of the jam.

In between are several shorter but no less haunting song interludes, enhanced by an artful application of melancholy cello, vibes and clarinet, complimenting Gilbert Gandil's limpid acoustic guitar (in both appearance and style Gandil was a ringer for mid-'70s STEVE HACKETT).The tight ensemble work from the entire quintet generally favored atmosphere and nuance over empty Prog Rock virtuosity, but make no mistake: these guys could play.

The music throughout is dressed in a lush, symphonic ambience, matching the romantic overkill of the cover photography. And it's a concept album (of sorts) too, following an obscure narrative penned by drummer Victor Bosch (the story is reproduced in the CD booklet, but in very small print and entirely in French).

No wonder the New Wave reactionaries at CBS Records dropped it like a hot Prog potato in 1977. But then again I did the same thing at the time, rashly discarding my original vinyl after jumping aboard the Post Punk bandwagon. Rediscovering the Musea label CD in the late 1990s was like hearing the album for the first time: a rare and welcome pleasure for a born-again Proghead. Who says you can't go home again?

It's (happily) ironic how so much of the music supplanting Progressive Rock at the end of the 1970s is now totally forgotten, while the richness and sophistication of albums like "Halloween" continue to endure, a full generation later. Popularity can sometimes be a passing fad, but a true classic can't be pushed aside so easily.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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