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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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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison' - Harmonium (10/10)

Although being a resident of the cold white wasteland known as Canada, I'll admit I haven't heard much of the progressive rock from this nation. Besides a handful of prog rock bands like the Collectors, Rush, and The Tea Party, much of my musical interest in Canada has been rooted firmly in the metal scene. This is why it is so refreshing to hear a band like Harmonium, a group from the Quebec. A group with their hearts and souls doused with the culture of their province, the band takes Québécois traditional folk, merges it with the (at the time) fresh stylings of progressive rock, and in doing so, creates something very special with their second album, entitled 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison'. As lush and as beautiful a concept album as any I've ever heard before, Harmonium really steals my heart here.

''Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison' is a cocenpt piece that revolves around the change of seasons. While this was originally covered by Vivaldi hundreds of years before, Harmonium is clever enough to throw their own twist into this, throwing a fantasy-tinged curveball by adding an imaginary fifth season to the mix. As one might tend to expect from a piece of work like this, the music of each part tends to aptly reflected the general Western interpretation of each season's mood and feeling. The album opens with the season of spring, also known here as the track 'Vert'. A warm folk number that opens with playful flutes and charming vocal harmonies, the listener is quick to be brought under the spell. Things are rather pleasant and optimistic sounding, and this only intensifies with 'Dixie', a track that some people criticize for being too upbeat, but it perfectly captures the sense of festivity and warmth that summer brings. Contrasting the first track's overtly folk sound, 'Dixie' takes things into a sort of ragtime jazz rhythm and continues the streak of strong melodies and beauty.

The next two tracks take a fairly less upbeat, and more sombre approach. With Harmonium's representation of Fall, 'Depuis L'Automne' is incredibly melancholic when compared to the song it follows. Here again are some incredible vocal harmonies, and a more complex song structure that the first two tracks never conveyed. Ironically, this track is generally not quite as enjoyable as the two ones before, but only because it feels as if it could have had a minute or two cut off its ten minute stretch. The ideas it holds in make for a really beautiful lapse into sadness. 'En Pleine Face' shows Harmonium returning to the folk stylings of 'Vert', and one can really get the impression while listening to this of a pastoral wintry landscape bathed in snow. The accordions add a new dimension of warmth for the band here, but of course, none of the tracks that have come by so far even compare to the enigmatic 'fifth season'...

'Histoires Sans Paroles' is the only track here that isn't associated with any existing season, but instead is the cornerstone of what the album is about; something only for the imagination to dream and conjure up. A seventeen minute instrumental, I may have been a bit wary had I known there would be none of the same great harmonies that made the first four tracks so great for me, but the song never makes itself clear as an instrumental. INstead, the music simply feels perfect for what is is; a glorious cycling of magical sounds that feel as if they incorporate parts of the four existing seasons to make something that is at times eerie, at times warm and pleasant, and other times saddening. There are a few sparse vocalizations courtesy of Judy Richard here, but the voice never passes by as being anything more than one of the instruments. The epic has an odd way of seamlessly alternating between different emotions, and by the time it ends, I only ever want to hear more of it.

It is indeed the composition of the music here that gives the album such a vast potential, but I could not see 'Saison' being anything more than merely mediocre, were it not for a magical performance from the band. On top of the warm tenor voices present throughout the first four tracks, Harmonium has a great way of taking simple instruments like the acoustic guitar, piano and accordion, and giving their arrangements vast amounts of detail; easter eggs that only leap out to the attentive ear. What can I say about this album; 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison' is among Canada's most majestic contributions to music ever. It is a shame the band only ever released three albums, because I think I have found one of my favourite pieces of progressive rock here with this.

Conor Fynes | 5/5 |


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