1. Pulsar (3:00)
2. Apaisement (7:30)
3. Puzzle / Omen (8:00)
4. Le cheval de Syllogie (7:00)
5. Pollen (13:05)
Pulsar is one of the most accomplished prog acts to ever come out of France. Their discography’s peak albums are among the most captivating symphonic prog albums of all time, but their style was initially more focused on the space prog trend, and that’s the general sign of their debut album “Pollen”. Taking some noticeable influences from Pink Floyd, their sonic basis bears a typically French vibe that is shared with Carpe Diem (1st album) and Atoll. Generally speaking, “Pulsar” is an excellent effort, despite lacking the magical exquisiteness of their next two albums, the gems “The Strands of the Future” and “Halloween”. The main motifs and musical arrangements bear a higher degree of finesse than many other bands’ debut albums, although the sound engineering feels a bit too rustic at times, which somehow keeps the sonic environment to come to its full fruition.
The instrumental track that is titled after the band itself erupts as an electrifying astral travel turned into rock: the pulsating bass and the interplay between guitar and synth are so unearthly… this 3 minute long track really feels too short. Following is ‘Apaisement’, a haunting prog ballad that gives introspection a majestic vibe, in no small degree due to the wise use of those dreamy synth layers that go floating on and on across the air, bringing an extension to the lead vocalist’s melancholy. A special mention goes to the beautiful flute solo in the end, typical Pulsar at its most pastoral. Next comes one of the most complex pieces in the album, ‘Puzzle / Omen’, which kicks off with a prog fanfare led by Gandil’s powerful guitar lines, so energetic and cosmic. Then comes a 5/4 motif sustained on a jazzy cadence, with highlighted lines on guitar, synth and flute.
The slower section includes the recited omen by guest Carmel Williams, after which a Floydian dreamy motif enters and displays an aura of languid sophistication right towards the end. The album’s second half comprises the most mysterious ambiences of the album. It begins with ‘Le Cheval de Syllogie’, a piece full of dense, somber atmospheres that allow the band explore their spacey vibe a bit further than on any of the previous tracks. Things get gradually more intense as the track progresses: the distorted recitation sounds like a robotic wizard. The namesake track that closes down the album is also the longest one. It is a majestic progressive ballad that follows in a similar introspective vein to track 2, although developing it with a bigger dose of intensity and incorporating an increased inventiveness in the adornments, ultimately, leaning closer to the album’s predominant space prog tone.
A special mention has to go to the flute interventions, captivating beyond words. The final synth sounds, emulating sea waves crashing against rocks during a windy winter night, appropriately echo the song’s overall contemplative mood. 'Pollen' is an excellent album, indeed: a most dignified anticipation of even more brilliant things to come.