Review Summary: With this album Pulsar became one of the best French prog bands. This is one of the classic spacey prog rock albums.
“The Strands Of The Future” is the second studio album of Pulsar and was released in 1976. The line up on the album is Gilbert Gandil, Jacques Roman, Roland Richard and Victor Bosh.
Pulsar is one of the finest symphonic progressive rock bands from France. Pulsar, are masters of mood and atmosphere and have often been compared to early Pink Floyd. The music is drawn out and extremely cinematic, with sparse percussion, mournful vocals and liberal utilization of moog and mellotron for a positively haunting effect. Pulsar’s influences include Pink Floyd and King Crimson, plus classical musicians and composers such as Gustav Mahler. The band recorded and published their first album, “Pollen”, in 1975. Philipe Roman left the band shortly after. The following year, the group recruited bassist Michel Masson, who later collaborated with them on “The Strands Of the Future”, in 1976 and “Halloween” in 1977. “Halloween” is generally considered one of the best symphonic prog albums.
After the release of “Pollen”, the band had been testing new material throughout the tour for “Pollen”, and by the late of 1975 they had booked a studio and began working on the follow up, but not before the departure of bassist Phillipe Roman. The album, released in 1976, was “The Strands Of The Future”, a French progressive rock classic that was loyal to the style displayed on “Pollen”, but even stronger overall. The album vaulted Pulsar into the big leagues of French rock, selling 40.000 copies within its first six months, behind only Ange at the time. Having wrapped up their deal with Kingdom Records, Pulsar jumped to the big bands and signed a three album contract with CBS in December of 1976.
Although the album was hampered by a weak and amateurish production, no one can deny the musical quality of “The Strands Of The Future”. “The Strands Of the Future” contains beautiful, spacey, symphonic progressive music along the lines of Pink Floyd, Genesis and the early Eloy albums. This album features some of their finest work, particularly the 26 minute mostly instrumental title track. The atmosphere is enhanced by great fantastic passages for mellotron.
In reality, the spacey symphonic progressive rock can’t get much better than the 22 minute title track that takes up all the side 1 of the album. With the exception of a few lines sung in French, the track is an instrumental journey stuffed with complex chord changes, complex themes and arrangements loaded with organ, mellotron, synthesizers and lots of spacey guitar. A hauntingly beautiful and atmospheric flute also appears at the very end, while the intro sounds a lot like classic Klaus Schulze. This is the finest song Pulsar has ever done. This song epitomizes the incredible capabilities of the group. After the couple of verses sung in French, early on, soon the music totally blasts off carried by a string of incredible and amazing instrumental sections. The music is very spacey and ethereal at times with occasional “heavy” sections backed by gorgeous mellotron themes. The moog synthesizer is put to an extraordinary use in carrying melodic themes over minimalistic rhythmic pulses. This is really an awesome track. This is true classic stuff, indeed.
The rest of the album continues in the same style for the most part. However, side 2 isn’t as strong, but still features some good music. “Flight” is a relatively energetic instrumental. It’s an excellent instrumental that, despite its modest length, features several different passages that more or less encapsulates the sound of the whole album in a few minutes. “Windows” and “Fool’s Failure” both feature more extensive English vocals. “Windows” is an atmospheric, laid back and very mellow song that pointed forward to their next and best album. The closing number “Fool’s Failure” is unfortunately an uninspired and tedious track that never takes off, and also includes some failed attempts at creating some drama by adding lots of narration. The fact, its 10 minutes long and the earlier mentioned lacklustre production weakens the album a bit, but the good stuff, especially the title track, is so good that it makes the all album worthwhile.
Conclusion: “The Strands Of The Future” is an excellent and a great evolution to their debut, “Pollen”. It contains beautiful, spatial and symphonic prog music in the vein of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Eloy and Ange. The general musical atmosphere is enhanced by some great musical passages of mellotron. And of course, it has its title track, which is a masterpiece and represents, for me, the best track ever made by them. The more I listen, the more I adore this album of extremely dark symphonic prog. This is the album that puts Pulsar on the top of the French symphonic progressive rock music and at the same quality level of some other French symphonic progressive groups, such as Ange and Atoll. If you like Genesis, King Crimson and Pink Floyd, and in general of the spatial rock music, you mustn’t miss this album in no way. It represents a great introduction to the Pulsar’s world and to the French prog rock music in general. I listened to this album many times to really get into, and since then, it became one of my favourite French prog albums.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)