Greg Northrup    23-Oct-2001 Pollen

Pulsar - Pollen (1975)

Pollen is the debut release from the French progressive rock group Pulsar, the first in a series of spellbinding releases that would place them at the very head of the class as far as French symphonic rock would be concerned. Along with a number of great French groups like Shylock, Carpe Diem and Arachnoid, Pulsar helped invigorate a burgeoning French scene just as the progressive rock movement in England seemed to be winding down. Like many of their contemporaries, the tone is almost always dark and foreboding, though as opposed to the sometimes violent ferocity of those bands, Pulsar sets themselves apart with sparse arrangements, distant vocals, and a down tempo feel.

I happened to be extremely surprised by the quality of Pollen, which I find to be somewhat underrated in light of the band's extraordinary later work. Although The Strands of the Future and Halloween are both utter classics, there is a common stylistic thread running throughout all of the band's work, and fans of Pulsar will find Pollen to be a monster album in and of itself. The music is spacey, atmospheric and rife with surging emotion, showcasing a stunningly mature band of songwriters with an already firm grasp of the unique compositional style that would see little alteration on the next two albums. There is cohesion and a sense of focus throughout, a clear accomplishment for a debut recording. "Apaisment" alternates vocals and crystalline flute passages above a bleak rhythmic backdrop, while "Puzzle/Omen" ups the tempo to accommodate fiery synthesizer leads. "Le Cheval de Syllogie" features passages which stand among Pulsar's heaviest, with some crushing fuzzed-out guitar riffs. The highlight of the album is probably the thirteen minute title track, which wraps the band's strengths together alongside some catching vocal melodies, heart-wrenching piano, and just enough delicate Gilmour-esque guitar phrasings to give Pulsar's overdone Pink Floyd comparisons some merit. In all, Pollen is an extraordinary work and just as essential as the band's two subsequent albums. A gorgeous debut from one of France's very best bands.

Sjef Oellers 16-April-2001 The Strands of The Future

The Strands of the Future contains beautiful, spacey, symphonic progressive music along the lines of Pink Floyd, Genesis, the early Eloy albums and Carpe Diem. Ange or maybe Arachnoid spring to mind for the vocal sections, although they are less dramatic. On this album they sing both in English and French, but instrumental sections for guitar, various keyboards and flute dominate. Some choir-like sounding vocal arrangements occur as well, which give the album a dramatic flair. The atmosphere is enhanced by fantastic passages for mellotron. An excellent album!

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