Audio CD | Reissued
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PULSARs third album, issued in 1977, "Halloween" is generally considered one of the ten best symphonic albums in the world. A masterpiece of refinement, sold out for a long time and at last reissued with a wonderful 16-page booklet that includes biography, photos, words and history of the band from Lyon. Definitely indispensable for all progressive rock fans! The re-issue of "Pollen" from 1975, includes a biographical booklet with words and pictures. A year later, "The Strands Of The Future" showed us its charms in the format of hyper-sophisticated, elaborated and refined music, filled with exacerbated lyricism and romanticism. Probably as good or even better than "Halloween" ! In the early Eighties, PULSAR took the path of theatrical creation: with the director Bruno CARLUCCI, the famous quartet (Gilbert GANDIL at the guitar and bass, Victor BOSCH at the drums, Jacques ROMAN at the keyboards & Roland Richard at the flute and saxophone) adapted a short story by! Austrian novelist Peter HANDKE in 1981, "Bienvenue Au Conseil DAdministration !". The result is worth it for a lot of reasons ! With "Görlitz", PULSAR made their comeback in 1988 and played an actualised music with beautiful themes, and with the same melodical beauty and the same refinement they had shown on the four previous albums. Those are milestones of Seventies French Progressive rock !
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Top Customer Reviews
If you don't like symphonic prog rock you will HATE this CD and might as well stop reading right now. If you're like me and can't get enough of the stuff, especially the genuine 70's kind, you should add Halloween to your collection immediately.
If you're still with me, here's the long version:
Pulsar was a French prog band who were big stars in their homeland, although they could barely make a dent elsewhere in their day. Their work has since gained quite a cult following with prog fans worldwide, with this album sometimes referred to as the French Dark Side of the Moon. While most of the Continental prog bands (Italy aside) were playing in sub-genres like RIO, space-prog and zeuhl, Pulsar was squarely in the English symph-prog tradition with some definite overtones of the Italian symph-proggers. Symphonic as all get-out actually. Keyboardist Jaques Roman played the full complement of prog keys from organ and piano to Mellotron and synths. Gilbert Gandil had the necessary facility with both acoustic and electric guitars, and bassist Michel Masson is the underrated star here as he effortlessly follows the twists and turns in tempos and key changes. Victor Bosch was not only a great drummer but a fine percussionist and vibes player as well. He won't knock you out with his technical virtuosity like a Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant, but his vibes work is wonderfully atmospheric and really adds to parts of this album. Multi-instrumentalist Roland Richard colours the music with woodwinds, piano and strings. This is a full-on symphonic rock sound of the highest order with so many things going on in the music that it virtually begs repeated listening.
The album is presented in two "side-long" suites (to use the old-school vinyl term!) It opens in E-flat with a 7 year old female voice student singing the "Londonderry Air" (AKA "Oh Danny Boy") with "la-la" syllables for the words, and closes with a male opera singer intoning over a bed of Mellotron and organ, ending in a sustained, triumphant C-major chord. In between, the story unfolds with sweeping strings and Mellotron, beautifully recorded acoustic guitar, hard rock jamming with fusion undertones, atmospheric vocal segments...well I could go on and on but you get the picture. A word about the sterling acoustic guitar sound: John McLaughlin had just finished recording in the same studio and had painstakingly set up for the perfect guitar sound (I believe this would have been Shakti's Natural Elements album but I am not positive.) All Gandil had to do was sit down and record with the same setup to get that sound.
This is supposedly a concept album but what exactly the concept may be has escaped me despite repeated listenings (which means it fits right in with stuff like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway lol) This is largely due to the badly transcribed English lyrics and phonetic singing. According to the liner notes, the band used the services of an alleged "English teacher" but given head-scratching lines like "the rose garden stenches the ambers on my lips" (!?!) I sure hope they didn't pay too much! Gandil's unfamiliarity with the language leads to words like "floating" and "flood" coming out as "flouting" and "flude." Put aside the lyrics and just listen though, and you will be pleasantly surprised to find out how effective his yearning, dramatic style can be and how much the voice adds to this record.
About midway through the second part you may find yourself wondering how any of this fits on with the title of Halloween. At the 14 minute mark your question will be answered as deep, terrifying Mellotron notes and a frightening musical cacophony begins, leading to some dark, King Crimsonish jamming. Everything from cello to congas ends up in the mix as the piece turns symphonic again, leading to that glorious operatic ending. I have listened to more prog "grand finales" than is probably healthy for anyone and I have to say that this is one of the very best I have ever heard. Just blows me away every time.
The editing and mixing is excellent, blending the many disparate parts into a seamless whole with a tight conceptual focus that is found in the best prog rock. For those looking to expand your collections well beyond the UK "Big 6," Halloween is essential. A masterpiece of progressive rock.