It's a classic of the dark symphonic prog rock and is among the best releases to come out of France in the 70’s. It's essential for collectors of the French symphonic rock.
“Halloween” is the third studio album of Pulsar and was released in 1977. The line up on the album is Gilbert Gandil, Jacques Roman, Roland Richard, Victor Bosh and Michel Masson.
Pulsar was a French progressive rock group that rose to prominence in the late of the 70's. Like many of their French contemporaries they were exceedingly dark, though with a more atmospheric bent and a profound sadness at the core of nearly all of their work. Pulsar's music was in general characterized by extended suites with a weighing atmosphere and a Pink Floyd sense of grandeur and mood. Because of their atmospheric tendencies, the group is often unfairly criticized as a Pink Floyd's clone. They also used moog and mellotron to great effect, painting grandiose and often horrific backdrops to the mournful and sedate vocals. Pulsar sits within the symphonic progressive rock movement, and their fascination with dark atmospheres mixed with symphonic tendencies makes of their sound quite unique.
Pulsar began their career in 1975 with the release of their debut album, “Pollen”. During the subsequent tour, Pulsar struggled to build a fan base within their home country and persistent touring. The group appeared on the French charts and attracted the interest of concert and festival promoters. In 1976, they released their second studio album, "The Strands Of The Future", a French progressive rock classic that was loyal to the style displayed on Pollen, but even stronger. The album vaulted Pulsar into the big leagues of the French rock music. Under pressure from their record company to record and release a new album as soon as possible, in order to capitalize on their newfound popularity, the band set out to create a conceptual work with a similar thread of anguished romance and fantastic imagery. The result was 1977's Halloween, arguably the group's masterpiece and without a doubt another French classic.
“Halloween” is a conceptual symphonic studio album with only one theme, with the same name of the album. It’s divided into two side long parts and each part is also divided into several songs. This seems to be the most highly regarded Pulsar album. “Halloween” is really an excellent release. Most of the Pulsar's brilliance can be extremely subtle and the music on "Halloween" requires special attention to every theme, or else they might just float by unnoticed. This is an album full of haunting keyboard melodies and beautiful guitar textures. “Halloween” became a classic of the dark symphonic progressive rock music and is among the best releases to come out of France in the 70's.
Lyrically, “Halloween” tells us a kind of an imaginary journey of a little girl to the country of the sad dolls. This ambiguous, esoteric, cruel and entirely surrealistic story, relates the conversation between the little girl and an undefined person or thing. The lyrics were written in common by all the musicians, but were inspired on a strange story written by their drummer Bosh, some time before. On this third musical work of the group, this is the first time that all the lyrics on the album are sung in English. However, the lyrics were written in French by all the musicians and translated into English by an English teacher, a friend of them. Musically, the research for the writing of all the musical pieces was also done by all the musicians. All the musicians love different kinds of music and the influences can be varied. So, we can see on “Halloween” the deep influences of the symphonic rock, especially of Genesis, the influence of Pink Floyd and the unique touch of Pulsar. Anyway, for me, it’s also particularly evident the influence on this album of the romanticism of the Gustav Mahler’s music and the atmospheric ambiguous and indolent of the Luchino Visconti’s film “Death In Venice”, directed in 1971, which was based on the novel of the same name of Thomas Mann.
Pulsar toured throughout Europe to present on live, “Halloween”. In 1978, the group performed in two night concerts in my country, Portugal, where 15.000 people saw the two live shows that will last forever in their memory. It was the final evidence of their successful musical career and their potential as a big world’s band. I had the privilege of being one of those 15.000 people who assisted to one of those two memorable live concerts in Cascais, a place near to Lisbon.
Conclusion: "Halloween” is an excellent album which combines musical success with the celebration of a grandiose symphonic music and a technical achievement with perfect recording and full of nuances of a mixture of dark and warm colours. Pulsar’s “Halloween” is undoubtedly one of the major’s progressive albums of the second half of the 70’s, as well as their previous album “The Strands Of The Future”. “Halloween”, is simply a touchingly, beautiful and emotional symphonic progressive rock album, and is one of the essential musical pieces from the French rock scene of the 70’s. Both, “Halloween” and “The Strands Of The Future” are two truly classics of the dark symphonic progressive rock music and put Pulsar as one of the best French progressive acts of the 70’s, among their pairs, such as Ange and Atoll.
Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)