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Pollen - Pollen CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 166 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One and only album by this fantastic Quebecois band: "Pollen" is a tremendous progressive opus by Pollen, an ensemble of very talented musicians/writers that mastered the art of art-rock more proficiently than many other bands that are usually more praised among prog circles and that have released more albums. Pollen created a stylish sound that incorporated a reasonable amount of complex ornaments in the frameworks of appealing compositional ideas. One can get the feeling that Pollen keeps a strong set of stylistic connections with Sloche, Et Cetera and Harmonium, and the reason for this perception is that this quartet pretty much encapsulates many recurrent facets that were heavily present in Quebec's prog scene. The album kicks off with 'Vieux corps de vie d'ange', wih bears a solemn aura of elegante extravagante, pretty much a-la Gentle Giant (with an Et Cetera filter), additionally combined with the majesty of good old Genesis. The way in which the guitar and synth are combined is simple masterful, as is the vibraphone solo (somewhat influenced by that in Gentle Giant's 'Pantagruel's Nativity'). 'L'étoile' reiterates the opener's meditative vibe but with a different attitude, which is more pastoral-driven. Given that its first half is dominated by dual acoustic guitars punctuated by flute and soft electric guitar, one might feel suspicious about how it happened that the guys from Harmonium sequestered the Pollen guys and usurped their recording schedule. Later on, things get livelier, with clavinet and Moog interventions that even sound a bit Mediterranean (just like PFM, Le Orme, early Atoll, Gotic). 'L'indien' also displays pastoral pursuits, only driven toward a more intimate realm - this is like a hybrid of Anthony Phillips and early Rägnarok, plus some early Harmonium as well. It's a beautiful song, indeed, with a moving vibe that doesn't kill its relaxing mood. The album's second half starts with the vivacious 'Tout l'temps'. The band takes full advantage of the 3 ½ minute span, predominantly using a 5/4 tempo for the track's development. The amalgams of organ and synth are very Minnear-like, although the eerie sound mix makes the keyboard input closer to Sloche. 'Vivre la Mort' echoes the preceding track's vitality and takes it to a rockier trend: one can describe it as a mixture of 1971-Yes and first album-BMS, with the (usual) leanings toward the GG standard. The album's last 10 ½ minutes are occupied by 'La Femme Ailée'. This piece starts with abundantly acoustic flairs of pastoral nature, in a way emulating the languid spirit of track 3. A few seconds before arriving at the 3 minute mark, there's this wind effect that announces the arrival of a sheer symphonic passage: with a well-ordained mixture of "Moon Madness"-era Camel and Sloche's symphonic side, this passage makes good use of the basically simple motifs and raises them to a crafty majestic level. Then things become a bit weird (interesting nonetheless) with a slightly creepy organ solo, which sounds quite Gothic. What should come after this surprising twist?: just the coda, which reprises some of the motifs in the second section and makes them a bit more intense. This is a big finale for a great album, or even more than great, masterful - "Pollen" is the kind of lost gem that deserves to be rescued from the shades of the 70s recording industry and taken into every good progressive collection. From my part, there is nothing left to say.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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