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Harmonium - Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.35 | 1218 ratings

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4 stars There's a certain satisfaction to hearing music from your own country-- and while Rush are lauded almost to ennui in Canada, apart from a small minority, Harmonium are almost unheard of; yet they have a distinct power and style that more people should hear. While Harmonium isn't exactly an appeal to English listeners, with the dense Quebecois mannerisms and localized French, (in fact, it may be difficult to interpret by French listeners outside of Quebec) if you are a French speaker, and you love the sound of Early Genesis, or a pastoral Folk sound mixed with a very heavy dose of prog, this album is definitely for you.

Obviously, written in 1970's Quebec, there is a sort of Seperatist ideology hidden within the lyrics, which is odd for a yonger generation of listeners-- a relic of a somewhat idealistic past, and even though there is still some animosity present in French/English Canada, it certainly isn't as strong as it was before, and to discover it in such a strange medium is suprising; however, I digress, the music itself presents a completely different side.

A heavy folk influence is readily apparent on the first track, "Vert" and Serge Fiori shows that he is a very unique vocalist, with plenty of power, but just enough restraint, he also accompanies himself at different parts, and does a fantastic job. While Harmonium never really steps into the foray of power, they focus mostly on the composition of the music, rather than technicality, but to anyone who loves the wash of 12-strings and flute, it's certainly a great piece that really can't be critiqued very much, very well put together.

Not so conspicuously absent throughout the ENTIRE album are any elements of percussion, which is surprising, seeing as you can go through the whole album without noticing, and "Dixie" is a great example, seeing as you can be more drawn in the blending of Southern musical styles with French Canadian musical styles than the noticible lack of any drumming, and it's bizarre to say the least, but in a really interesting way. Pierre Daigneault, the Flutist/Clarinetist once again is allowed free reign at times, and he does a fantastic job.

"Depuis L'Automne" is one of the strongest songs on the album, and is both highly textured and simplistic at parts. Layers of Mellotron and 12-string wash the song, and Fiori & Normandeau plantive and somewhat bitter lyrics compliment Fiori's highly emotional and powerful voice. One of the best on the album.

"En Pleine Face" is the least immediately memorable of the album, but that's not saying its bad at all. The song is shorter, and features some accordion work, which is a pleasant change in timbre, but most of the song is rather minimal in terms of instrumentation, with guitars, accordion, and a bass with Fiori's vocals. The song is still a very welcome addition, but it could have been a little better fleshed out, as the final somewhat "catchy" part at the end of the album, where Fiori repeats:

"Où es-tu, j'en plus

Je ne t'entends plus, où es-tu?"

Which to me, has always been a haunting little part, which is a real gem in the album.

The final song "Histoires Sans Paroles" is a true progressive symphony spanning about 17 minutes. The only difficulty I found with the album was the consistent lack of percussion worked on the previous song, but it could have worked measures on the final track, but that's only an afterthought, as this song definitley is quite an experience. Judi Richards sings on this song, but I have no idea why, because she doesn't do a great job of it, as I wondered why Fiori suddenly became a weak, whiney sounding singer-- and I only noticed it wasn't him after a little bit of reading. The song, still, is wonderful, aside from my random complaining.

This album is a great introspection into 1970's Quebec, not only because of the subject matter, but the music blending with unique styles you would be hard pressed to hear anywhere else. If you're a huge rhythmically driven person, avoid the album I guess, but it's to your own fault, as this album offers a beautiful sonic experience that is refreshing to anyone looking for a true hidden gem.

Aspic | 4/5 |


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