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View Poll Results: How would you rank the album?
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Very good 3 60.00%
Brilliant! 2 40.00%
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Harmonium - Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison (1975)

This album was homework in the Prog & Fusion Album Club some time ago back in week 34. This is it's discussion thread.

For those who don't know it, here's a description

Quote:
Originally Posted by tore
Harmonium - Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison (1975)



French Canadian band Harmonium has a short discography of only 3 studio albums. Si on avait.. is their second album and commonly considered their magnum opus. Although not the most obvious pick to newcomers of the genre, the album is still widely appreciated by progheads. To give you an idea of just how much, it currently sits at #14 in progarchives list of the 100 best prog albums throughout the ages which is impressive, I think, considering most of the places above it are filled by the giants of the genre like King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Pink floyd and Genesis who have a lot more albums in their discography and, likely, a lot more fans.

In other words, their ranking in the list is more likely due to the strength of the album rather than people just voting up their favourite band and this record is indeed a good one. Reverby flutes, acoustic guitar, layered harmonious vocals and beautiful melodies is what this album is about. Well, there are some other things thrown into the mix as well of course. Anyways, for a prog album, it is not very challenging, but rather easy to get into and very comfortable on the ears. There are 5 songs in all, each one meant to represent one season with the 5th being the "new" season .. I guess a bit like the fifth element.

Anyways, I guess some here will know this one well and for you who don't, consider this a warm recommendation
So, what do you think about Harmonium's 1975 magnum opus?
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Old 12-08-2010, 04:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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For me this is a brilliant album. I was a bit irritated by the singers voice first, but after some spins it feels perfectly fitting to the calm music. There are some bits which are a bit boring, i.e. some spherical fillers in the middle of some songs. This is a peaceful album without any brutal change of time signatures or virtuoso solos. Pure harmony!
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow, Phil! Great to see you're still around

Early on, I was a bit irritated by the french language to be honest, hehe. I don't listen to a lot of french music that has lyrics, save for some rare Edith Piaf and other occasionals. However, I soon got used to it and as for the rest of the album, I've had no complaints. I love the beautiful harmonies and of course I am a sucker for flute in rock music.

My favourite tracks are the intro track Vert and the epic Histoires sans paroles. I consider the album very good, but not quite brilliant like Yes' Close to the Edge or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Still, anyone who like 70s rock and perhaps prog fans in particular should check this one out. It's got classic written all over it
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This was a very enjoyable listen. I loved those pastoral, atmospheric melodies beautifully expressed with different instruments constantly dancing with each other, like acoustic guitar, flute, saxophone, mellotron, piano. The end result is very successful in evoking different seasons and the out of time fifth season culminating in the last 17 min long track which I can best describe as being timeless.

The first song Vert represents spring and is my favorite right behind the epic fifth track. It opens with a dreamy flute sound that is quickly accompanied by acoustic guitar and a very chanson-like male voice. Actually the whole song reminds me of French chansons, but the instrumentation going from dreamy to more uplifting is perfect in generating a sense of awakening that comes with spring. If I could describe these mellow and optimistic sounds in visual terms I would call them pastel.

Dixie is a happy, uplifting song, very fast compared to other tracks and as such evokes the care free summertime. Towards the end it turns itself into a real Dixieland song. Among other stronger and more memorable tracks I can’t help but think of this song as an intermezzo.

Depuis L'Automne is another strong, atmospheric song. It starts like a nice folk ballad, but then around the fourth minute, led by floating mellotron sounds, transforms itself into an intricate, moody piece of music beautifully expressed through interplay of guitar and saxophone which especially injects this whole composition with that special kind of sorrow, autumn time. It all ends with mellotron producing some threatening, but enchanting sounds leading into winter.

This winter song, En Pleine Face, surprised me the most. After such a strong autumn song perfectly setting the mood for winter I expected to venture into the sleepy, frozen world, dangerous in its cold beauty. Instead I got a pretty little song, quite an optimistic ballad, but also introspective in some parts. I haven’t really explored the lyrics, maybe that’s where the winter theme really comes through, but judging by the music alone, this song feels like winter observed from the inside of a warm, cozy home.

And then there's Histoires Sans Paroles, the fifth season, escaping the inevitability of a cycle, breaking a circle, but at the same time encompassing all four seasons and elevating this album to the heights I didn't quite predict when I started listening. It's one of those mini-masterpieces that are enough for me to give this album bigger rating than I intended to. It has everything I heard in previous tracks and more, but transformed and inspired with a unifying idea that makes the progression of different themes so compelling. This composition is a 17 min long epic, but I can't quite say if it feels longer or shorter than that. It feels timeless. And I can't quite call it epic, because it flows with such a natural ease. For all the intricate interplay of sounds, for all the changing and returning of different themes, there's a sense of lightness everywhere, the changes are done so seamlessly you don't even notice. It's airy. Excellent!

Because of this last track this album gets a very good rating from me, although Histoires Sans Paroles is brilliant.

PS: And now I've seen there's already a different album for this week and the voting for next week is over. This is going too fast for me
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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^Brilliant write up, Dankrsta

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PS: And now I've seen there's already a different album for this week and the voting for next week is over. This is going too fast for me
Haha, it's a lot of work to stay on top of it all Don't worry, though. There's no time limit for when you can add to a discussion, so of course you are free to do things in whatever tempo you want!
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Old 04-28-2011, 10:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Brilliant. A masterpiece. A must for any prog enthusiast. In the early/mid 70's the province of Quebec had a big prog boom led by Harmonium, Maneige, Dillinger, and Sloche and a few others. dankrsta gave an excellent review. I don't need to anything else.
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Old 05-01-2011, 08:12 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Fiori/Seguin "Cinq Nuits..." is considered the fifth Harmonium lp.
It has only two members of the orig band but sounds pretty full.

Serge Locat (keysman) released a wonderful solo instrumental lp. Mixing Quebec folk with proggy.

The bassist released a solo lp which tricked me - very beautiful foc, but the music was not prog and not to my liking.
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