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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 A massive leap on from their self-titled folky album, "Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison" is one of the masterpieces of progressive music, often forgotten and overshadowed nowadays by the British prog giants. The album creates excellent imagery (especially the "fifth season", with the beautifully eccentric album cover acting as a visual guide), excellent music, and very emotional vocal climaxes delivered by frontman Serge Fiori. I've never felt so much emotion for a foreign singer, only somewhat comparable with "Per Un Amico". Harmonium's 2nd album is a must-have for any so-called prog fan.

"Vert" - the season of spring - is almost a melancholy dixie/ragtime piece with great delayed flutes opening the piece, even better melodies and harmonies, brilliant chord progressions. The instruments/vocals work hand in hand throughout - a very well written and structured opener for the album. "Dixie" is probably my favourite track on the album. Whilst considered to be an odd song for such an atmospheric album, I think it encapsulates its respective season (summer) very effectively, whilst managing to maintain a hearty feel that you can tap your foot to. Amazing voicings on the guitar and melodies and harmonies, more so than the first track in my opinion. It all comes together very well, as all the instruments take their solos - piano, guitar, clarinet, even spoons! Delightfully upbeat, and just one of the greatest songs I've ever heard really! Makes me want to get into dixieland music more. Furthermore, the coda where every plays in a rhythmical unison is just awesome! One criticism would be the piano solo, as it was already backing the previous solo and therefore makes it sound a bit unfinished when the guitar exits. Otherwise, magnificent.

"Depuis L'Automne" is of course another excellent track, forming a very powerful atmosphere. Musically dimmer, and more sombre than the other tracks which was probably necessary as I can't see another happy track coming in. A great take on autumn! Heaps of outstanding melodies are dropped throughout, with more great instrumentation and climaxes, but used to the different effect to show the autumnal scene. I find it incredible that Harmonium can manage to produce a signature sound this way and still capture each season so precisely. This track is probably the best of Serge in the band's catalogue - his guitar playing and heartfelt (almost weeping) singing style is very emotional. It feels like he's almost grieving the summer, especially just before the mellotrons and echoing guitars enter, and on the outro just before those delicious mellotrons. "En Pleine Face" is just as good as the other tracks, but perhaps could use some better chord progressions to keep you interested. Probably some of the best melodies on the album though, and I couldn't imagine it any different. Again, very emotional and a great addition of the accordion. Without a doubt though, a terrific song, especially with the reprise of the first season popping towards the end, with some hypnotic harmonies.

"Histoires Sans Paroles" is most people's favourite I guess, because it is probably the most forward-thinking, experimental, progressive (yet still generous) track on the album. After a gentle intro of seashore noises, an excellent flute line comes in. Having tried to write a solo line before, I know how difficult it is. The atmosphere gradually tenses and builds up with a classic use of the mellotron. Just over 3 minutes into the "fifth season", the track moves to another sort of "Impression" or "Movement", with the same instruments but played very differently to earlier, and it just somehow seems to flow. After some whole tone noodling, the mellotron becomes the centre of attention once again, and produces some very intriguing chords before that beautifully offbeat piano (one of the highlights of "Si On Avait" for me), joined by some basic syllable humming by Fiori. The track goes on impressing for all 17 minutes - never a dull moment. The piece is constantly evolving and exploring new sounds, but letting you settle and indulge into them too. The coda is also a brilliant way to wrap this and the whole work up, referring back to the beginning of "Histoires Sans Paroles", with great instrumental melodies and puffing flutes, ending on almost euphoric arpeggios. I sincerely wish there was more progressive music like this.

A(+): Simply a masterpiece. Would be the perfect album if they expanded from their roots that little more, and spent a little longer as done on L'Heptade. Unlike its older brother though, it certainly isn't remotely let down by any longevities or lack of material, and remains their outspoken magnum opus.

Vert: ***** Dixie: ***** Depuis L'Automne: ***** En Pleine Face: **** Histoires Sans Paroles: *****

Xonty | 5/5 |


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