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Thread: Pulsar - The Strands of the Future

  1. #1

    Pulsar - The Strands of the Future

    I guess I'm kinda late to the Pulsar train but does that ever scratch that Floyd's itch. The opener,(title track) just gives me that Floyd vibe that I've
    loved for years. Any fans???

  2. #2
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    I don't have this one, but I do have Pollen and Halloween, and like them well enough.

  3. #3
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Yes! This is probably my favorite Pulsar album. Granted, the track "Windows" is just so-so, and "Fool's Failure" is rather embarrassing in spots, i.e, there's no solid vocal melody to speak of, the phrasing is abysmal, and the less said about the clunky English lyrics, the better. (I really prefer Gilbert Gandil to sing in French.) That said, the tremendous 22-minute title track and the short-but-sweet "Flight" are both superb. The Mellotron and flute passages add quite a lot to the atmosphere, and I really like Gandil's simple but effective guitar playing. I've played this album a lot since I discovered Pulsar back in 2002.

    I'd also give high marks to Pollen, their debut. This one also gets lots of spins in my house. Great psychedelic bits scattered throughout, and I especially love that mean fuzz guitar in the first track. Many folks say Halloween is their best, and while the production is certainly a lot better than on Strands, I find the album puts me to sleep.
    Last edited by Koreabruce; 07-14-2016 at 10:33 AM.

  4. #4
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Lookee what I found! A clip that shows the band playing a section of "The Strands of the Future" live back in the day...


  5. #5
    Member Joe F.'s Avatar
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    Easily my favorite of theirs, followed closely by Pollen and Halloween.

  6. #6
    If you explore French progressive albums, this is one of the recordings you're going to trip over. An essential French prog album. If I was going to recommend a Pulsar album to someone as a starting place, this is the album I would mention. My friends and I wore out the grooves on Strands back in the day. Having said that, I personally find myself listening to Pollen more, but I'm aware that is a personal thing. Musea rated Halloween as one of the top 10 symphonic albums of all time. Concerning the vibe of Halloween, the band was influenced by Gustav Mahler at the time of its creation, and it shows.

  7. #7
    Loved Halloween! Strands Of The Future held my interest , I listened to it occasional , but it didn't have the impact on me like Halloween did. Halloween is special and even timeless to a degree. Pollen I completely disliked. That's just me. One track in particular was a bit too reminiscent of GONG for my tastes. A later album in the 80's, (can't recall title), but I believe there was a picture of a train on the cover? That album was actually decent and leaned stylistically more to the sound of CAMEL. Possibly Camel's Stationary Traveler period. Haven't heard the other titles. At one time I had the aforementioned on LP...but quickly replaced them with the cd versions many years ago. When I collected Pulsar LP's ...it was the 80's and they were quite expensive due to them going out of print. I missed out on Pulsar in the 70's. Halloween was kind of a progressive opera or play to me personally. Although I may have conceived it in that way or felt that vibe, it may have had nothing to do with falling into that category when the band wrote it. I've always wanted to see it performed live.

  8. #8
    Have to give this one a good listen again.
    "Always ready with the ray of sunshine"

  9. #9
    Member LASERCD's Avatar
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    I have a soft spot for Strands Of The Future. It was my first Pulsar album. I remember Allan Gunnison writing about the band in Trouser Press. I stumbled on the album at Korvettes. The surreal cover art closed the deal - I always found it a bit creepy. The music transported me to another dimension. Been a fan ever since...

  10. #10
    I'm not too big on Pollen, but I like Strands and Halloween well enough. Altogether I'm a bit in two minds about them, though - they made some sound which could easily function as the Spinal Tap'ian cliché on everything that already back then was becoming a token of (rather understandable) ridicule with the whole "symph rock" concept, such as the following:



    Great for what it is; an authentic glimpse of a club date with the band - yet also plain silly for its sheer musical appearance of pointlessness.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #11
    Big fan here. That video clip from INA is great. Had never seen it. Too bad like all of the INA footage it sounds like they recorded the sound via a transistor radio.

    These guys were in unique territory, IMO. There are passages on SOTF that I find connect with my ears in a manner a bit different from anything else. It's a symph "itch" they can scratch which nobody else quite can.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Great for what it is; an authentic glimpse of a club date with the band - yet also plain silly for its sheer musical appearance of pointlessness.
    Enjoyable for me. Thanks for posting this.

    I could pick this kind of stuff apart, but I've long not understood the point of judging compositional depth if in the end I enjoy the sonic textures at play. For me, it's fascinating to see the worldwide impact of early Pink Floyd and where some were taking the influence. Pulsar went into space. It happened. "Take it or leave it," I guess.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffCarney View Post
    I've long not understood the point of judging compositional depth if in the end I enjoy the sonic textures at play. For me, it's fascinating to see the worldwide impact of early Pink Floyd and where some were taking the influence. Pulsar went into space. It happened. "Take it or leave it," I guess.
    Well, I agree on principle. Yet I get fully just why someone with a bag of prejudice (as opposed to an actual oversight) towards the "corny symph/prog" thing would find this clip little but a safe confirmation.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Well, I agree on principle. Yet I get fully just why someone with a bag of prejudice (as opposed to an actual oversight) towards the "corny symph/prog" thing would find this clip little but a safe confirmation.
    Agreed. But when dealing with "someone with a bag of prejudice" towards a certain musical style, what type of music would be immune from harsh "judgment?"

    Not to mention I would find it difficult to concern myself very much with what anyone thought about this or any other style of prog.

  15. #15
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Great thread! I'm thoroughly enjoying all the the comments.

    I think Pulsar in general, and The Strands of the Future in particular, represent how atmosphere can trump chops, songwriting, vocal ability, lyrics, and sonic quality. One could make the case that this lacks in all of those departments - some have indeed done just that on these forums in the past - and yet everytime I put it on and hear that string synth fade in, I find myself smiling involuntarily, and not in a disparaging way. I find that I simply love it as a whole for what it does to me as a listener. I also agree with Ken above regarding the "surreal" & "creepy" covert art. Indeed! Because of that artwork, I used to think that this album must have been based on an existing novel or short story, but apparently not. Not a problem, though, as I've already created my own version of that story in my head thanks to all the evocative sounds & imagery provided by this very creative group of guys from Lyon.

  16. #16
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Anyone else think that Gilbert Gandil looks quite a bit like Steve Hackett pre-LLDoB in these videos? Pretty amusing...

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Koreabruce View Post
    Anyone else think that Gilbert Gandil looks quite a bit like Steve Hackett pre-LLDoB in these videos? Pretty amusing...
    Interestingly enough, Pulsar emulated or adapted a style of writing that was obvious in the music of Steve Hackett and King Crimson ('69-'71). At first I thought they were influenced by Genesis and I was dead wrong. There was the absence of Tony Banks' note patterns but noticed a connection between Hackett and K.C.'s writings. Steve Hackett and King Crimson would sometimes vamp on one note/chord or 3 notes and chords while playing some unusual note pattern on the mellotron. At first when a sax or a guitar would take a solo, it might seem that you are hearing a jam...but no...just completely no..the piece is building up, expanding, and leading into another piece which is melodically haunting.

    Some sections lasting 4 to 5 minutes in Pulsar's compositions are just as stylistically based on K.C. and Hackett formulas...or the method and approach of doing things, as they are with Pink Floyd. This is all observation over the years and to be honest..Pulsar discovered new methods of writing and had originality of their own. They didn't seem to be lacking originality ever. They obviously depended on their creativity when writing a piece that was reminiscent of someone else. Which in return produced yet another interesting aspect to that style of writing.

  18. #18
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enid View Post
    A later album in the 80's, (can't recall title), but I believe there was a picture of a train on the cover? That album was actually decent and leaned stylistically more to the sound of CAMEL. Possibly Camel's Stationary Traveler period.
    Görlitz!



    Yes, I think your comparisons are apt, John. Until now, I'd never fully warmed to this one, but it's been getting more plays as a result of this thread.

  19. #19
    Member Koreabruce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enid View Post
    Interestingly enough, Pulsar emulated or adapted a style of writing that was obvious in the music of Steve Hackett and King Crimson ('69-'71). At first I thought they were influenced by Genesis and I was dead wrong. There was the absence of Tony Banks' note patterns but noticed a connection between Hackett and K.C.'s writings. Steve Hackett and King Crimson would sometimes vamp on one note/chord or 3 notes and chords while playing some unusual note pattern on the mellotron. At first when a sax or a guitar would take a solo, it might seem that you are hearing a jam...but no...just completely no..the piece is building up, expanding, and leading into another piece which is melodically haunting.

    Some sections lasting 4 to 5 minutes in Pulsar's compositions are just as stylistically based on K.C. and Hackett formulas...or the method and approach of doing things, as they are with Pink Floyd. This is all observation over the years and to be honest..Pulsar discovered new methods of writing and had originality of their own. They didn't seem to be lacking originality ever. They obviously depended on their creativity when writing a piece that was reminiscent of someone else. Which in return produced yet another interesting aspect to that style of writing.
    Again, a keen observation. They creating something original by fusing the elements that you mentioned. Funny how they are often referred to as "the French Pink Floyd," and yet I hear the other influences that you pointed out just as much if not more prominently than PF. The one blatant PF example is the entry of the guitar in the title track of TSoTF, which totally reminds me of that iconic phased 4-note figure in Wish You Were Here. It doesn't *sound* exactly like that, but it certainly evokes the same spirit. That aside, the originality lies in how they chose to blend all of these particulars to forge their unique work.

  20. #20
    I sold "Pollen" several years ago, but I still have "Strands..." and "Halloween"; haven't played them in years, so I'll get them out tonight and report back...

  21. #21
    Member mellotron storm's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of Strands... just a gorgeous, spacey album full of mellotron. I really like Gorlitz as well although it seems I'm in the minority with that one.
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  22. #22
    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    I had their first three albums, back in the 70's when they were first released, very dark prog, but I really liked them, and also bought Stands, Pollen & Halloween on CD as well...

  23. #23
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    It's been years since I've listened to Pulsar albums... AAMOF, I don't have any of their albums anymore

    IMHO, the only one that really sounded Floydish was Pollen (which is from memory the one I preferred)

    As for Halloween and Strands, they always sounded a bit tooo symphonic to my tastes, and I remember thinking their sound was a forerunner of the neo-prog of the 80's to come. As for the Gorlitz album , I was never able to get interested in it.

    For French Symph prog, I always preferred the early Atoll (first two), early Ange (first three), Carpe Diem or Shylock
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  24. #24
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I'm not too big on Pollen, but I like Strands and Halloween well enough. Altogether I'm a bit in two minds about them, though - they made some sound which could easily function as the Spinal Tap'ian cliché on everything that already back then was becoming a token of (rather understandable) ridicule with the whole "symph rock" concept, such as the following:



    Great for what it is; an authentic glimpse of a club date with the band - yet also plain silly for its sheer musical appearance of pointlessness.
    Yup, kind of laughable (IMHO, anyways), especially the narrative part, where you expect trolls and elves to fly around the drums.. BTW, the closing minute does sound Floydish, though mostly because of Mason-styled drumming. The guitarist trying to look like steve Hackett is hilarious

    and TBH, I always thought of Ange live as equally ridiculous in their ultra-theatrical performances (look up on YT for some of those early filmed performances for ex)
    Last edited by Trane; 07-15-2016 at 06:09 AM.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  25. #25
    The first 3 Pulsar albums are amazing and essential in any serious prog collection.

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