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Harmonium - Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.35 | 1349 ratings

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5 stars Probably the least risky title you could ever order.

We've all experienced that sinking feeling of ordering a so-called "masterpiece" from the site's reviewers only to ask "what were they thinking?" This is likely one album that will not do that to you. This album features some of the most joyous life-affirming music I've ever heard. I don't know what the lyrics mean (in French) but I know what the music says to me and the beauty is indescribable. I just can't imagine anyone not liking this album whether a prog fan or not. By today's rock standards the album will sound very soft and wide-eyed so perhaps I would not recommend it to fans who exclusively like metal, dark, or abrasive music. This might be a bit too sweet for that type of music lover. But to anyone who likes folk rock, mellower symphonic, or nearly anything else under the sun you will love this.

I just love how Brian (The Lost Chord) starts his review: "Oh. My. God." His enthusiasm just bubbles over and I can understand completely. This is one of the most beloved albums on the site and yet to the mainstream it is almost unknown. Sometimes the finest music is among the hardest for me to find the words for and here it is no exception. I guess the greatest compliment I can pay to "Saison" is that it sounds like an Italian prog album from the classic period. Gorgeous instrumentation and arrangement, impeccable playing, aspirations to songwriting grandeur and a well planned conceptual feast. They pour it all on the fire with layers of acoustic guitars, flutes, mellotron, clarinet, piano and vocals. Warm bass and gentle but perfect vocal harmonies adorn the first track "Vert." There are unbelievably poignant moments of flute, sax, and acoustic guitar woven throughout. "Dixie" is next and this is the playful one with an upbeat ragtime bounce that says summer like sitting on the porch with a lemonaid. If this track can't bring a smile to your face you're probably already dead. It's just amazing how they can do no wrong here. Many bands could take such sentimental material and fall flat on their face via either poor instrumental execution or a lack of sincerity. Harmonium seem to have channeled that magic that often hits a group of artists but once in a career-everything is hitting on all cylinders: production, songwriting, melody, concepts, playing, arrangements, and a little luck. From the carefree feelings of "Dixie" we move to darker and less secure ground in "Depuis L' Automne." This song has a melancholic piano and mellotron combo that nearly brings you to tears and then flute and Floydian acoustic guitar over the top..oh my. It gets a bit spacey for a spell until the vocals come back and set up an ending drowned in a hopeful chorus. "En Pleine Face" is mostly driven by acoustic guitars but listen to what they do with them. They are layered and constantly looking for subtle changes in picking or strumming that add something, or they'll play with the stereo effect, bass, or vocals to build sound pillows that are just drop dead beautiful. As I alluded to earlier this could be a bit too sweet for some fans of harder prog but I still think it's worth hearing even for you. Some have commented that the absence of drums and wailing electric guitar solos are a handicap but it is precisely that departure from the norm that adds more power to "Saison." Without those expected elements the sound is more unique and the space is there for other instruments to be magnified beyond their usual positions behind drums and rock guitar. Yes is does sound different without the hard rock elements but it absolutely works here if you give it a chance to grab you-it might take more than two or three spins, most great albums do. Music is like people. Sometimes some of the most interesting characters are the ones that take time to get to know. Still waters run deep?

Each piece offers moods and melodies appropriate to the respective season. Then the fifth track "Histoires Sans Paroles" takes everything to the next level by stretching into a longer epic exuding enough mental imagery to keep even the most seasoned daydreamer locked in his room for many hours with headphones, closed eyes, and thoughts of the thawing snow outside yielding to flowers in the spring. Brian is right..Oh my God indeed. Waves crashing into shore birth gentle acoustic guitar and heavenly flutes to open the piece. Then the mellotron rolls in like a fog. At 3 ½ minutes things change and the acoustic begins a repetitive riff and begins to actually feel like a structure that you would hear in a classic period Oldfield piece. Soon the guitars are being plucked to sound like ticking clocks moving around you in the mix with unsettled flute and tron for good tension. The middle section will change mood again back to hopeful with piano and wordless vocals and then drift back to unsettled. Waves and seagulls are brought back for a bit. Slowly the piece will begin to build and look for its sunset. It begins by the bass coming back and bouncing gently in unison with the flute melody and here again I personally think of Oldfield (sans Mike's electric guitar.) The ending will be a gentle one rather than fireworks but that's in fitting with the kind of album this is. The albums length of 41 minutes is also ideal. If we could get the world's leaders to listen to this album while passing the peace pipe we might avert future wars. Just a thought.

Highly recommended to any fan of beautiful pastoral prog with folk influence and fans of the flute and mellotron. I usually have to struggle with a decision to give something 5 stars, I actually give myself time to try to talk myself out of it. With "Saison" it was pretty easy to pull the trigger. Two 5-star picks this week though-I'm gonna need some therapy to deal with that.

You need this.

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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