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

SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIÈME SAISON

Harmonium

Symphonic Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
5 stars One of my top ten. This is simply the perfection made human. Listen to "Depuis L' Automne "or the last "fifth season" for uncontrollable tears of joy, shivers down the spine, and goose bumps all over. I think that Vivaldi and his four seasons are definitely as good as this album so he can go back to his eternal sleep.

This is simply stupendous. Spring is a standard Harmonium piece and Summer is as the title suggest very swingy and festive but unusual for them. Autumn is the first highlight and renders all the Indian Summer beauty (and sometimes sadness/melancholy) of that season.

Side 2 starts with Winter and as you might have guessed is sombre and cold, but as you know that around the corner is ..... "the fifth season": Histoire Sans Paroles. The apex of the album: Mellotrons succeed to the Martenot Waves and comes in the twin guitars . This number is the longest and contains few vocals mostly wordless but the music is really enthralling consistently evolving, jumping from the flute to the clarinet to delightful bells to mellotrons to flute again.

The fifth and last number takes you to unexpected heaven with no hope of coming back except than to play it again. Certainly Quebec's crowning contribution to prog

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#21561)
Posted Monday, February 02, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Most won't know this group from Montreal,Quebec, Canada and that is a real shame because it is one of those GEMs that made it locally but never made it world wide because they stuck to their native tongue ie : French. Not understanding the French Quebecois dialect might throw some of you off a bit, but hang on and the lyrics will eventually just become sounds as part of the melody. This masterpiece can be described as 70s folk progressive .There is plenty of acoustic instruments with drums bass and synthesizers as well.You can hear a bit of woodwinds in the style that might be compared loosely to Supertramp.It also has a stlye of flutes that could be compared to PeterGabreils style but more complex.The vocal harmonisizing is excellent. Their best song is "Histoires sans parole" = "Stories without Lyrics " It's a smooth 17 minute exquisite instrumental piece thats is like being in a textured dream changing from theme to another with pleasure and grace. This is a one of my top ten albums. Do yourself a favor and listen to this gem with an open mind and it will bring you limitless hours of enjoyement

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Send comments to Aztech (BETA) | Report this review (#21562)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Folk prog masters from Canada HARMONIUM released several brilliant albums in the 70's with "Si on avait..." representing perhaps my favourite of all of thier releases. HARMONIUM's music tends to resonate on the light side of things with its brilliant and crisp piano accents and happy like guitar passages. Songs are highly acoustic in nature and at times take on a folk-jazz attitiude only to be enriched by the flute, harpsichord and mellotron throughout. Vocals are well done and suit the music quite well (they are in French).

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#21563)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
Steve Hegede
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Basically, the masterpiece here is the 17-minute suite entitled "Histoire Sans Parole". The epic starts off with one of the most beautiful flute, mellotron, acoustic guitar themes ever recorded, followed by countless beautiful themes for the remaining 15-minutes. The other songs on the album don't really match the quality of the epic, but they are nothing to complain about. I really like "Dixie", a fun song drenched with early American-jazz influences. The one thing that most listeners will catch is that HARMONIUM didn't have a drummer, yet the lack of drums doesn't take away too much from the music due to the increased interaction between flutes, saxes, acoustic guitars, piano, and mellotron. I would say that HARMONIUM were inspired by early GENESIS, and the calmer moments from early KING CRIMSON. Overall, what a perfect album to start your French Canadian prog collection with!

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Send comments to Steve Hegede (BETA) | Report this review (#21564)
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a nice album! The beautiful coverart already indicates it's pastoral nature. You can hear a lot of flute, acoustic guitar, piano, mellotron... The lack of drummer emphasizes the gentleness of this album even more. Shorter songs are more folk in style with chanson and light jazz overtone. Epic songs are rich symphonic compositions and in some places reminiscent of Debussy's impressionism.This symphonic style is even more stressed on their next album "L'Heptade", which has a drummer, an orchestra... What I find also appealing is the lead singer, who's voice is very pleasant and often singing in falsetto. There is also a lot of beautiful vocal harmonies and wordless singing. This album is a masterpiece of Quebec progressive folk!

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Send comments to terramystic (BETA) | Report this review (#21565)
Posted Monday, December 06, 2004 | Review Permalink
belz
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 4.7/5.0

This is Harmonium most imaginative album. The title track "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison" is a masterpiece that sound a bit like Jethro Tull in "Thick as a brick" for the flute and the guitars. However, it's something new, something else. "If we needed a fifth season". Something that never existed and will never exist. Some place to get together and live freely, far from the autumn nostalgia (Depuis l'automne) or the srping exaltation (Dixie). Something else. That is.

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#21566)
Posted Saturday, February 05, 2005 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is the second album from Harmonium. It is much more progressive than the previous one, so that the keyboards take a bigger place here. The folkier elements consisting in rhythmic acoustic guitars are still quite present. There are many very good piano parts. The bass has the same bottom sound as on the previous album. Like on the first album, there are no drums here, except the Fiori's very discreet bass drums. There are many excellent lead & backing vocals, sometimes sounding a bit like on the Circus' "Movin' on" album. The floating mellotron on some tracks is really OUTSTANDING. The end of "Vert" has a very colorful & melodic combination of clarinet and bottom bass. "Dixie" was a hit in Quebec in the 70's: it has a slight dixieland style, as reveals the excellent & catchy clarinet and piano parts. "Depuis l'automne" has a great combination of intensely floating mellotron and echoed acoustic guitars. The end of "En pleine face" has a very good European accordion, which unfortunately does not last long enough. "Histoires sans paroles" is probably the best track on this record: the combination of intensely floating mellotron, acoustic guitars and melodic flutes is EXCELLENT and very impressive: the overall style slightly reminds Genesis of the Gabriel-era.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#21567)
Posted Thursday, April 07, 2005 | Review Permalink
olimparadis@h
5 stars This is one of my favorite of all time. The concept is wonderful, the music is simply beautiful from the beginning to the end. Not very original but always incredible music coming directly from the skies. The lyrcis are so intelligents that you guys are gonna have to learn french :- ). Seriously get this timeless album now. You wont regret it.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#39489)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wonderfull album, every minutes of it are well used. The band didn't change their sound, they improved it by adding two more full time musicians, a winds player and a pianist/keyboardist. It's still the same kind of folkish but now it's real progressive rock. The album start with one of the greatest flute line I ever heard and end with the song that got the best flute line I ever heard. The epic "Histoire sans Paroles" is the masterpiece here. If you are open to other language, give a try to this album, you won't be dissapointed.

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Send comments to White_Cluster (BETA) | Report this review (#41085)
Posted Sunday, July 31, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In the beginning of my first-time-listening I had very big problem about stars-giving for this album... The first two themes were (are) in my oppinion so usual and common with some la-la-la- vocal parts...not totally unpleasant but with hopes for the rest of this record... But the last three compositions brought the real sorrowful beauty into the house - quiet flutes, saxes, clarinettes, acoustic guitars, electric piano, very nice mellotron, vocal harmonies and no drums - very ethereal and athmospheric carpets of real beauty!!! Because of these hapless two first tunes... almost 4 stars!

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Send comments to Rainer Rein (BETA) | Report this review (#63068)
Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Ah, les Canadiens nouvellement; très bon!

This album is a much more elaborated and developed Harmonium work if compared with their debut and previous album. Now the production is fine and certain arrangement flaws disappeared.

Everything combines well: the singing and vocals, the instrumentation, the orchestration. For those that missed the keyboards in their first album, now there's a lot of them, but the flute and the acoustic guitar remain. The general rule is awesome!

The songs:

'Vert', opens greatly the album, a sweet flute provides the tunes for this beautiful song. A deserved splendid singing and playing for a splendid music.

'Dixie', pleasant with a funny climate going from vaudeville to folk.

'Depuis l'automne' is a real great progressive song, although Harmonium have a style of their own it is obvious that some influence from other progressive bands was gathered. The result is catchy, appreciable.

'En pleine face', is another great track where all functions near perfection. And the band's personality is clearly stamped here: the vocal, the instruments - that accordion sound is impressive.

'Histoires sans paroles', the magic moment of the album, maybe the greatest musical piece of the band. Along more than 17 delightful minutes we catch a glimpse of everything Harmonium did, a combination of folk, ballad, soft rock with spices of experimentalism and psychedelism put in a way that one cannot forget.

Enfin, a MASTERPIECE. Total: 5.

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Send comments to Atkingani (BETA) | Report this review (#63807)
Posted Sunday, January 08, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Si on avait besoin d'une 5ième Saison" with Maneige's "Les Porches" are the truly masterpiece not only in Progressive Music scene, but also in Classical music; With no doubt I can compare this excellent work with Beethoven's 9th Symphony or with Mozart's Requiem.

All five tracks are amazing, but my favorites are Depuis L'automne and Histoires sans Paroles.

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Send comments to Vasil Jalabadze (BETA) | Report this review (#65656)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A very good album, I am so glad it was recommended. The only thing I have against it is not being able to undestand the lyrics.

I was very surprised by Dixie, definitely not expecting that type of music on this album. Histoires Sans Paroles is a incredible track instrumentally , and I don't think I'll ever get sick of Depuis L'Automne.

The flute is very well played throughout this album, and I love the acoustic rythym guitar. If you want a pleasant, unique album, that doesn't lack in talent or emotion get this brilliant album. I am very impressed with it. Probably one of Prog's prettiest albums.

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Send comments to video vertigo (BETA) | Report this review (#72412)
Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is an absolute masterpiece! Perfection! This is probably the most "beautiful" I have ever heard, and easily the best folk album I own. The progress from the debut to here is astronomical. They have piano, mellotron, 2 more musicians, even a song as long as Close to the Edge! They transformed from a simple melodic folk band into a progressive rock-folk one. For now, this album gives me more goosebumps than any album from Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and the Flower Kings. Here, you have the mellotron used at the best way possible, beating Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks and Fripp. This record is the definition of beauty. Anyways, the songs are the seasons and the last one something else (who knows, I don't know french)

Vert (Spring) begins the album with a wonderful flute melody. This is a song not very different from a song in the first album, yet superior in every aspect. The vocal harmonies are at their catchiest (think about the opener of the debut), the instrumentation is complex, accessible, and magical.

Dixie (Summer) sounds like a pop tune, but it is not a generic one. IT has some jazzy touches, yet keeps the folk. It is very upbeat, joyous, and makes you wanna dance to it! The piano playing is excellent here, especially the main riff.

Depuis l'automne (Autumn) is the song I heard in progarchives. This song is a bit darker than the previous two, and proggier. After the first verse/chorus (great simple folk), there's a short part where you hear a wonderful mellotron. After the second time, you get a much longer instrumental break where you hear a mellotron just impossible to describe in terms of how pretty it sounds. You don't only have the mellotron, you have other instruments, including a simple bass line and acoustic guitar that has both "echo" and "sustain" effects. The result is probably a passage that surpasses anything from Yes, Genesis, and this band itself! After that, a theme is repeated but then another theme is repeated which changes melancholia into pure euphoria!. This theme has some of the warmest, happiest, and most addicting vocals I have heard in a long time.

En Piene face (Winter) is another gorgeous short song, but a bit more melancholic. The last two minutes of the track features a wonderful repetitive theme with a great use of vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and accordion.

Histoires Sans Paroles is the epic of the album after the four seasons. The first movement is very uplifting and has one of the best flute melodies I ever heard. The next one is introduced by a wall of mellotron. It makes you think as if it is God playing the mellotron. I rarely heard such a wonderful use of the mellotron. Later, an electric piano plays with a multitude of guitars in unison. The theme continues with minor variations that make it even more gorgeous to listen to. A somewhat bizarre musical break follows and is faded eventually when the mighty mellotron takes over again until it is alone. Here, it sounds similar to the one used by Wakeman during Tales of Topographic Oceans. Strong musicianship that keep giving me goosebumps continue and the lonely mellotron passage is repeated. Brilliant music with with sax follows and Im still wondering what this song is about. Is it a fifth special season as a reference to something? Is this a musical version of heaven? of an utopia? What is this? This theme lasts for about 5 minutes as it grows and shape shifts into a much needed climax (mellotron freaks: here you have some beautiful flute-like mellotron). A very uplifting and upbeat section that brings back the intro of this composition concludes this gorgeous disc of heaven.

What are you waiting for? Even if you don't like folk nor prog, I think it is impossible to not get moved by the beautiful passages making up the 41 minutes in this album.

Highlights: Depuis l' automne, Histories Sans Paroles

Letdowns: None, all of them are brilliant!

My Rating: A+

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#72975)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars From the first bars of this concept album you know that it's going to be something special.

Let me get a couple of inconsequential things out of the way first: (a) it's not Progressive Rock; (b) in my opinion, apart from the last track the music is not particularly 'progressive'. Right, now let's talk about the music.

Five tracks, five seasons: 'Vert' (green) = spring; 'Dixie' = summer; 'Depuis L'Automne' (since the autumn) = autumn (fall); 'En Pleine Face' (on full face) = winter; Histoires Sans Paroles (stories without words) = the fifth season ("Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison" means "if one needed a fifth season"). This is why this album is also known as "Les Cinq Saisons" (the five seasons).

Fiori, singing in accented Quebec French, has a gorgeous voice, full of emotion. That, plus the exceedingly good writing, arrangements and musicianship, makes the music delightful. And it's hard to credit, but there are no drums on this album (well, 2 seconds of bass drum according to the sleeve notes!). I suppose one could categorize the music as accessible, highly melodious, laidback music with folk influences and a tinge of the 1960s mainstream. Electric piano (gorgeous), Mellotron and synthesizer are used, but in rather an understated way. To me, "Les Cinq Saisons" doesn't sound as dated as, and is better than, the group's next release "L'Heptade".

The mood of the first four tracks matches well the seasons: 'Vert' is light, breezy and hopeful; 'Dixie' -- a Charleston, by the way -- is pure, joyous fun; 'Depuis L'Automne' is broody and melancholic; 'En Pleine Face' is, to me, just achingly, moist eyes, sad ("C'est moi que est tombé en pleine face" just gets me every time).

The whole thing is accessible, particularly the first four tracks and, of those, 'Dixie' and 'En Pleine Face' in particular.

It's difficult to single out a favourite track when they're all so good, but I suppose my favourites are 'Dixie' and 'En Pleine Face'. The former is such a joyous Charleston romp with honky-tonk piano (a grand, but sounding a bit like an overstrung upright). The latter has a sadness to it that I find touching; I love the arrangement, the Gallic-sounding accordion and the Ondes Martinet. No, hang on; perhaps I like 'Vert' and 'Depuis L'Automne' better. Err.

Progressive Rock fans tend to single out the long instrumental 'fifth season' "Histoires Sans Paroles", and I like this very much too, but it does not touch me quite as deeply, although the lovely instrumentation (including haunting Mellotron), vocalisations by Judy Richard, changes in mood and tempo do indeed make "Histoires Sans Paroles" a delight. But I'm splitting hairs: all the tracks are truly excellent.

The piano is the business, the electronic keyboards tasteful, the acoustic guitar, mandolin and dulcimer sublime, the woodwind melodic and understated, the singing and harmonies gorgeous. It's difficult to single out instruments and players when it all melds beautifully, thanks in no small part to Fiori's and Normandeau's top-notch writing (music and lyrics).

Apparently the lyrics have meanings within meanings, alluding to the Quebec separatist movement in the 1970s, the group's experiences at the time, the city of Montreal and goodness knows what else. Fiori's handwritten sleeve notes talk about "Montréal" as if she were a woman, an allegory I suppose. His notes on the fifth season start off: "Pendant que Montréal dormait, le printemps se glissa lentement dans son lit." (While Montreal slept, spring slipped slowly into its bed.) and end with the same words, in other words a cycle. And here is my only gripe with the CD: the format does not do the booklet justice. The artwork by Louis-Pierre Bougíe is bizarre and I would have liked to study it at its full size rather than on a 'postage stamp'. The aforementioned handwritten sleeve notes by Fiori are legible, but would have been much easier to read had they been bigger. The details about the music and album on the inner cover of the booklet are minuscule but just about readable. What a shame that this has been squeezed down to fit the CD format. Perhaps Polydor should have printed it on a large fold-up colour sheet of the type one sees in some CDs.

For the first time, I think, I have trouble rating an album because of the text associated with the star rating system on this site. Putting aside the text, this is a no-brainer 5-star album. But the text associated with 5 stars on this site is "Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music". Trouble is, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I don't think the music on this album is particularly progressive, last track excepting. Well, I'm going to have to turn a blind eye in this case, 'cause 5 stars it has to be. It seems the large majority of Progressive Rock fans think the same way about this aesthetic music, which possibly proves that your average Progressive Rock fan is a big girl's blouse at heart. Anyway, do yourself a favour and buy this album.

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Send comments to Fitzcarraldo (BETA) | Report this review (#76375)
Posted Wednesday, April 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Please don't take this review personally - I am doing this strictly for the benefit of the prog "purists". I don't know where anyone got the idea that this is symphonic progressive? This is a folk-rock band, perhaps art-rock, but they have no "balls" to be called symphonic. This is a very good album, nonetheless, with great melodies and even some mellotron here and there. Very pleasant to curl up to on an misty October day and all that, but don't expect any powerful stuff - no guitar solos, no moog solos, no grinding B-3, no meter changes... Sounds like the whole album is an interlude to something that never materializes... Those who are used to Genesis etc. will find themselves wondering "where the goodies are". But nice pleasant country-flavoured songs from La Belle Province.

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Send comments to EMinkovitch (BETA) | Report this review (#77639)
Posted Tuesday, May 09, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is where Harmonium begins to develop their progressive side. They evolved from a promising folk band into a band producing magical progressive music.

This album's title which means «If we needed a fifth season» has five songs, one representing each of the seasons. The songs represent their seasons perfectly but it's a case of double symbolism here. The deeper and more important significance lies in the history of Québec. This album is kind of a concept album about Québec's political situation in the seventies. In Québec, there has been an independant movement since the seventies and this album talks about this when it was at his peak. I won't go deep into the history lessons but the lyrics in Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison are definitely excellent. I know that for a lot of people here, the lyrics are not important in a prog CD but I thought I'd take some time to say how great they are. On with the music now!

Just like their debut, the album is drums-less. A lot of instruments were added this time though : flutes, clarinet, piano, saxophones and the prog-fan favorite, the Mellotron. All the tracks are really different so I think I'll go track by track.

Vert: Excellent opener with a beautiful flute intro (though the flute continues to be great in the rest of the song) followed by the always amazing singing of Harmonium. After 30 seconds of this song, you know that the band came up with something really different from their debut. The emotion and depth of the music is more intense. Notice the incredible vocal harmonies near the end of the song.

Dixie: This is the most poppy song on the album but it is definitely great anyway. Representing summer, this song is extra-cheerful and rythmic. It's ironic that this album features no drums because this is one of the most rythmic song I've heard. It makes you want to clap your ends. Incredible solos from both clarinet and piano in this song.

Depuis l'automne: This is my second favorite song on the album. It starts slowly to finally reach a very intense climax. Again and as always with Harmonium, the vocal harmonies are an important part of the song. In the middle of the song, we get a magical guitar solo to the sound of mellotrons. After that solo, the intensity rises and it becomes so... perfect.

En pleine face: Easily the saddest song in here. The kind of song that brings tears to your eyes. Beautiful again. Accordion is showcased at the end of the song. I'll cut this one short because the follower is so great.

Histoire sans paroles: This is the best song on the album and one of the songs in my top 20 ever. You can call this song an epic because it tops 17 minutes. Those minutes seem so short. I just can't describe how much I like this one. Mellotrons, flutes, guitars, vocal harmonies, magic... This is one amazing track...

Finally, as you can tell, I love this album and it is without doubt that I rate it 5 stars. Congratulations!

-Bern

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Send comments to Bern (BETA) | Report this review (#77786)
Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must say that if there is a album thats been playing in my head all my life, this one must be it! This album was one of my father favorite album in the 70's so being born in 73 and this album being released in 75, at around 3 years old, i got my first listening and it never stop since forever! Why? Because after my father, i was the one who carried the flame, so to speak, in listening this album 1000, 1000, 1000 of times. So it's difinetly on my top 10 album of all time!!! And for me Serge Fiori is what you can call a ginuses, if it exist. All of the album turns around the feeling that we Québecois of the 70's where feeling alianiated by the Canadian governments and we fell it was time to go free and separate ourselves from the rest of Canada.

The first track is Vert(green) the spring season. My favorite of the album. It start very slow with flute, acoustic guitar and bass, after that the vocals starts in a duet between Normandeau and Fiori, very beatiful. Then it grow more intence musically to finally go into a very very good bass groove with a soprano sax solo in little bit of delay. Every time this part starts i have goosebump in my heart wow!!!!! Incredible!!!!! It switch with both voices in solo to finish the song the same way it started, flute.

The next one, Dixie, the summer, as more of a dixiland feel to it. Very cheerful and very beatiful solo exchange with the diverse instruments. The end of that song always make me clap in my hand.

The third one, Depuis L'automne(Since Autum), the fall, relate directly to separatisim and the famous October 70, when Canada prime minister of the time, send the army in the street of Montréal because of the FLQ, a mouvement that whanted more right for the french people of Québec. So it says that it's a song for us to say that we change our way of thinking and that since we know that Québec is ours, the rest of Canada, mostly the goverment, is angry. It ends with the dream that maybe the separation will come, so don't go anywhere, it might be true. Funny enough, it never materialised and we still are parts of Canada, but we got more rights as french speaking people in that sea of anglish people that is north america. Musically this song is full of mellotron. In fact, it may be the best mellotron part that i have heard in a song. Very emotional for Fiori who really believe in what is singing, as always ;) This song with the last instrumantal one, is the core of the album musically, 10min 28sec of pure magical music.

The Forth one, En pleine face, starts with a unusual sound, l'onde martenot, played by Marie Bernard of the group Et cetera. Than, after that the guitar starts and Fiori sing about melting your ice or you will fall on your face, meaning don't be too sure of yourself. The song ends with a beautiful chorus in witch Fiori is singing, " where are you? I can't take it anymore, i don't hear you anymore, where are you? " in a loop that we can hear the accordion fading in until it goes solo for the rest of the song. Very unusual but perfectly good.

The last one, the fifth season, Histoire sans paroles(Story without words), is like the title says, instrumental. Around 17min of the best music you will hear in your life. Just for that one, you must own that album!!! 5 stars!!!! It's start with noises of seagull combine with guitar and one of the best flute melody i have heard in my life!!! Then, after that, the fun starts. lots of guitars, lots of mellotron and the beautiful voice of Judy Richard in a vocal solo that you will remember for the rest of your life, wow!!!! re-wow!!!!!

So. five song for five seasons = 5 Stars. A must for everybody, do not miss that one, grab it, you won't regret it!!!!!

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Send comments to Fido73 (BETA) | Report this review (#77810)
Posted Thursday, May 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must admit, upon first hearing the sample here on PA, I wasn't very impressed at all. Then fast forward to a time a bit later... mainly thanks to all the insane amounts of praise this album was getting, I finally decided to buy it. Now after about 15 listens or so in a week or so, I can honestly say this album not only lives up to expectations, but totally excels beyond them. Rarely have I heard an album of such beauty and absolute perfection. Actually, I can only think of one album that comes close (Locanda Delle Fate's only album).

I really don't feel like getting really in depth with what this album sounds like. If you'd like, you can read the other reviews who do a far better job at this than me. Or for the best impression, simply listen to the sample. This isn't what I would consider symphonic or really truely progressive at all, but more or less folk. If you like beautiful music, you will most definitely love this. To the person who gave this album 3 stars: yes this doesn't have any killer solos or hooks or catchy melodies and stuff like that. However, the sheer beauty of this album is more than enough for me to call it a masterpiece. Notice the repetition in the word "beauty" yet? Well, you'll see what I mean after listening to this.

In less than a week, this climbed from an album I felt that I would be disappointed in to one of my top 5 favorite albums ever. It may take a few listens, it took 3 full spins for this too fully grow on me, but this album is a huge grower. I strongly urge everyone who considers themselves to be a fan of progressive rock to buy this album as soon as possible. I can guarantee you will not regret it!

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Send comments to Mikerinos (BETA) | Report this review (#78196)
Posted Sunday, May 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Zac M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I think I can safely say that this is one of my all time favorite albums ever. Within the course of one week, I had listened to this album around twenty times, and that's no exaggeration. I have just listened to this album again twice just now, and it still hasn't worn off on me. It still remains as beautiful as the first (or maybe second) time I heard itm no lie. Hugues is exactly right in his explanation of the sensation that this album brings upon you. You do get chills, at least I did and still do, every time I hear it. Indeed, this is perfection made human (sorry to borrow your words Hugues ;)).

I cannot think of one weak spot on this whole entire album. It seems like everything is there for a reason. Each individual track has it's own character, as one would expect, each referring to a season, and the epic being about the fifth season. Sure, this album is mostly acoustic; there are no drums, no electric guitar solos, or anything like that. In this case, none of that is needed. The beauty that this album evokes is more important than anything else. Everything is coherent and flowing, but still very original.

This is an essential listen for everyone, Prog fan or not. I think that the only person who could not like such a wonderous album must be cold because what we have here is a product of emotions and beauty. The lead singer, Serge Fiori (at least I'm pretty sure he's the lead singer), has one of the most beautiful voices ever, regardless of genre. If you have not heard this album, you are really missing out. Do yourself a huge favor and check this masterpiece out. It's definitely a required listen in my book. No doubt in my mind, this album deserves 5 stars.

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Send comments to Zac M (BETA) | Report this review (#78197)
Posted Sunday, May 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Excelent prog album.

First, I have to say that I'm from Quebec and I never liked the music made here but when I heard ''Depuis l'Automne'' on this site, I started to be interessed by the music made in quebec in the 70's and I started by Harmonium's ''L'Heptade''. By the way, this is a great album too. This album is, for me, one of the best symphonic prog album of all time, expectially the first side. ''Histoires Sans Paroles'' wasn't as great as I expected but it's not everybody who is able to make a 17 minutes intrumental song and make it really great. This is my favorite Harmonium album.

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Send comments to proglil49 (BETA) | Report this review (#78879)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Easily one of my favorite albums, of any genre.

There's nothing more to add to the already existing reviews, every song is essential, the longer ones being the highlights. It's a very acoustic album, beautiful guitar, flute and mellotron work as well as wonderful vocals.

Just thought I should give it its well deserved 5 stars (the warning is not gonna keep me away from doing so), no need to repeat other reviews.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Send comments to BebieM (BETA) | Report this review (#80549)
Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is the only HARMONIUM album I own,and I have no further wish to buy anything else from them.I was told this is a Masterpiece.I saw it in PA's Top 50.And I finally got it.And I'm a bit disappointed. Their songs have left me unimpressed.The first epic has nice mellotron mid-part,but I can name dozens of bands which have better ones.The closing instrumental has some nice moments,but it's a bit boring and usual. I can't get what's the hype around this album.There are thousands of bands needing more attention than this one!The album is not even GOOD,BUT NON-ESSENTIAL:there are 5-6 minutes of nice music I'm able to listen to!Exusance for these 2 stars,but it doesn't worth more for me.I hope I've explained it pretty clear

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#81702)
Posted Thursday, June 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With the opening strains of Vert, a magical reflective journey unfolds. Harmonium's second album is a lush symphonic pastoral work, full of great melodies, powerful strings, darting flute runs, and virtually ever-present acoustic guitars. It reaches maximum intensity in the two epics Depuis L'automne and Histoires Sans Parole, but every piece is memorable. Unlike the first album with featured a guest drummer on one track, and was generally quite upbeat, this one moves along for more than 40 minutes, with scarcely a percussive sound, although main man Serge Fiori does keep time on the bass drum occasionally.

Having said that, the three shorter pieces do echo the style of the folky debut album. Vert, is a mournful acoustic ballad, becomes a jazzy celebration with scat vocals, great harmonies and understated electric piano. Dixie is an exuberant acoustic ragtime piece, the likes of which I have never heard before or since. Harmonium's mastery over their instruments is amazing on this one, as Serge Locat's tasty piano work intersperses with the dual acoustic guitars of Fiori and Michel Normandeau, with bassist Louis Valois underpinning the whole thing superbly. En Pleine Face is an incredibly moving delicate little hymn, on which Fiori reminds us just what an expressive vocalist he is.

But despite the quality of the shorter songs, nothing can match the scale of the two epics ... which are eleborate folky gems with astounding melodies. The moment when the breathy sax of Pierre Daigneault introduces (and accompanies) a guitar ramble in Despuis L'Automne is something special, and yet is superceeded by Histoires Sans Parole. The opening flute segment alone (which lasts for three gorgeous minutes) should break a few hearts, and when the acoustic guitars, piano and incredible mellotron strings lead into another intoxicatingly beautiful riff, it's almost impossible to take. Fans of acoustic Zeppelin and prog-folk of all colours, need to hear this majestic piece. It then breaks up into an eerie Crimsonesque adventure, with a unique emotional intensity ... by the gods when Fiori leads a wordless vocal, you want to cry. The beautiful ramble continues, with the odd jazzy undertone, before the opening flute melody returns backed this time, by the bass of Valois.

I don't know if this is unequivocal progressive masterpiece. But as far as progressive folk albums go, it is has a virtually unapproachable status (Gryphon's Red Queen To Gryphon Three is a rival that comes to mind). One day, you will fall in love with this album, I assure you of that. ... 93% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#82266)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars The thought of French lyrics and the "folk" tag prejudiced me against this album...my loss; how wrong I was to have avoided this. Full of gentle, subtle melodies and arrangements, it's one of the few albums that truly successfully marries acoustic and electronic instruments.

"Vert" the opener is the most straightforward song on the album; "Dixie" that follows is a little gem, with clarinet (I think!) and percussion leading a merry jig. "Depuis L'automne" is the first track with longer instrumental breaks, a foretaste of the final track, "Histoires Sans Paroles", divided into a number of movements , with dream like sections with wonderful melodies, that give up more on each repeated listening. This is the centrepeice of the album.

The range of instruments is wide - from Mellotron to woodwind - but all used thoughtfully, and without exception played superbly. Heck, I even found myself humming along to the accordion at the end of "En Pleine Face", and wishing for more!

My only criticism is not the music itself, but that I think the production of this CD could do with a complete re-mastering to bring out the very best in the music.

If anyone says to you that prog stands for bombast and can't convey emotion, this is an album that refutes that. The term "masterpeice" is over-used but I really think it applies here. A treasure. Please put it in your collection!

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Send comments to Phil (BETA) | Report this review (#84325)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison is a Masterpiece of progressive music. I've listened to it many times and I can never quite understand what exactly I find so amazing. There is no virtuosity in this album, and there is no extreme innovativeness. But there is something Magical about this album, undeniably.

No matter how many times I listen to this album I always feel as though I never truely comprehend the amount of emotional depth this album has... The music is so pure and moving...

Something about the minimalistic nature of this music makes it sound absolutely heavenly. Sweet but not cheesy. Like a 41 and a half minute field trip to HEAVEN.

The key to the album is first of all the outstanding emotion invested by the musicians into their creation, and also brilliant arrangment blending acoustic and electric instruments with great balance and perfect taste, which gives the music a rich sound but not one that is overwhelming to the ear.

The highlight of the albums is number 5, Histoires Sans Paroles, but it is not the only thing reason to give this album a listen.. Every song is in this album is amazing. Watch out for Dixie, which has some outstanding solos and vocals in it, and for the small epic Depuis L'Automne, which is also packed with amazing moments. Also the harmony and melody first introduced in Vert, and reprised in En pleine face, is in my eyes genius.

Histoires Sans Paroles is something that must be reviewed with more depth... So here it is:

It is indeed a story without words. The key of this piece is the melodies that just make your heart melt over and over again, and there are plenty.

It begins with a beautiful flute melody, which I can honestly say is the best flute melody I have heard in my life. This melody develops with excellent harmony added, and is repeated many times... Afterwards, the feel of the whole thing changes substantially many times. It goes from sentimental, to folky harmonies with interesting solos, to mellotron heavy psychadelic sections, then to an amazing vocal solo accompanied by outstanding keyboard lines at first, then those moving mellotrons and flutes come in... I guarentee that you will never forget this short vocal solo in your life. Its THAT good. Then comes a combined solo of a soprano saxophone (or oboe, I'm not sure) and a flute in 6/8. This section is very folky and it just feels like the longest passage ever. It is indeed, a very long passage toward the climax of the piece. As this passage evolves the 6/8 beat gathers more strength and noticeability... Slowly it becomes a good old waltz that builds up more and more and then when finally it becomes as bombastic as it possibly can, a chromatic descent in two voices, followed by a break, leaves the flute alone with a melody. Yep, its that same heavinly melody from the beginning. After one bar, the rest of the instruments join in to the melody, but still playing the waltz in 6/8, which makes the melody EVEN MORE amazing and heart melting. The whole reprise of this melody is faster than the beginning, and this is what makes it much more moving and exciting... This is repeated many times, and then the epic comes to an end; the ending is very untypical to an epic of this type. It is basically a jazzy chord progression which leads to an ending chord which also, has a very jazzy feel to it; "C#m9", If my hearing is not misleading me.

Essential is an overused word, but this album is indeed essential to any person who considers himself a fan of music in general, and specifically symphonic prog.

Do everything you can to obtain this album.

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Send comments to TheLamb (BETA) | Report this review (#85046)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A French teacher at my school found out that I was into Zeppelin (back when I was actually into Zeppelin...), and one day approached me with 2 Harmonium albums (and a Beau Dommage album) telling me I would enjoy it. Well, I uploaded them on iTunes, listened to the title track of the debut album, and then went back to listening to Pink Floyd and Zeppelin.

A few months later, I decided I would listen to the songs with no play count on my iTunes library, and the first song that stood out was "Histoires sans Paroles". The main reason: the title. Even though I speak French (hurray Ottawa education!) I would prefer hearing a song with no French lyrics. (Nowadays, I don't mind at all.)

I was absolutely blown away by the first note of the flute in the intro.

Histoires still remains one of my favourite songs, and in some strange way, touches me personally like very few songs do. It was phenomenally written, and excellently executed. One thing I noted, is the fact that there is no drums in this album at all. And being a drummer, oddly enough, I found that refreshing.

Although this is a very symphonic album, with many keyboard and piano sounds, and soft acoustic guitars and flutes, there's is also a lot of folk here. But regardless of its classification, the entire album is full of beautiful melodies, interesting lyrics (but nothing astounding), and a very, very memorable atmosphere.

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Send comments to Shakespeare (BETA) | Report this review (#85082)
Posted Saturday, July 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I do believe this is a great album. We all know how difficult is to perfectly merge folk and progressive music: that's exactly what Harmonium did in this magical album. More than this, they also skipped the main risk of this melted genre: you won't find too much honey taste in their music. Definitely wonderful, with two masterpieces: the song-oriented "Depuis l'automne" and the suite "Histoires sans paroles".

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Send comments to Dalex_61 (BETA) | Report this review (#92259)
Posted Wednesday, September 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hourra!

What a great feeling to see that a Quebec band is here!

A classic? Of course!

But for the impact and the power, L'HEPTADE was a step forward! Sorry, a BIG step.

The leader himself consider L'HEPTADE like the best thing they made. You know that they will build during the next years a musical-theatrical show?

I understand why Harmonium Si on avait besoin... take place here: no lyrics in Histoire sans paroles.

Good music is worldwide!

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Send comments to pinkyfloydyfan (BETA) | Report this review (#95468)
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Read Sean Trane's review for all that needs to be said about this album.. It's one of his top ten!

This is, absolutely the most beautiful and inspiring album I have had the pleasure of coming across. I'm glad to see it's gaining popularity at the archives, it's very well deserved.

No drums here, but steady acoustic guitar work fills the gaps. The vocals are incredibly emotional and the vocalisations on tracks 1,2 and 5 send you into a fit of happiness. Don't be put off by the french vocals, they are a large part of what makes this album so great. I can't understand them, and it just adds to the enjoyment for me, It's a instrumental album with voice.

Truly a record that needs to be heard by everybody.

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Send comments to OGTL (BETA) | Report this review (#101437)
Posted Saturday, December 02, 2006 | Review Permalink
infandous@exc
4 stars Why this is labeled "Symphonic Prog" on this site is beyond me. If ever there was a group that deserved the "Folk Prog" label, it is this band, and I would humbly suggest that the designation be changed. So Symph fans, you have been warned. This is Prog Folk, without a doubt, with the emphasis on the "Folk".

Having said that, this is a beautiful and stunning album. The complete lack of percussion should have probably tipped off people looking for a Symphonic masterpiece, but as Sean Trane says, you won't miss it. The best of this album is the two long pieces, both of which feature lovely acoustic playing accompanied by flutes and mellotrons. All of this is excellently done. These two tracks make the album worth owning for me. But don't expect a typical prog epic. Think the mellower parts of the first Crimson or Genesis Nursery Cryme. This is also not a complex show off of instrumental ability. What it IS, is one of the most stunningly beautiful albums I've ever heard. At least the two long tracks.

As to the other 3 tracks, they are more in the standard folk rock (or just plain folk) vein. To my ears anyway. The best is probably the first song, which has a pretty upbeat tempo and more rock and roll atmosphere. Jig, is just that, and my least favorite of the tracks here, though still entertaining at least. En Pleine Face is a pretty song, but I can never recall how it sounds after hearing it. Histoires Sans Paroles gives the album 4 stars all by itself, a fantastic and beautiful instrumental piece with some lovely wordless vocal harmonies, stellar flute playing and wonderful mellotron. Depuis L'Automne, while not as stellar, has many of the same qualities, but feature vocals (with actual lyrics) more prominently.

All in all, a great album but not quite a masterpiece for me. Again, don't expect Symphonic prog. Expect Folk Prog, and you will not be disappointed. A solid 4 stars.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#105652)
Posted Friday, January 05, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Someday I'm talking with a friend about french lirycs progressive rock bands when they show me Harmonium's Si On Avait Besoin D'une 5ièmme Saison. Courious I've started to listen the album, and when Vert start with that flutes and they beautyful harmony I feel like I'm starting a voyage into a beautiful and full colored atmosphere.

I've was listening to that geniously album with a lot of admiration and emotion when the last, and best song of this album cames. Histoires Sans Paroles with his flute and acoustic guitar(I'm classical guitar player) first part make me feel as I'm in other place, so wonderfull and sweet. All of the 17 min of this track are perfect, the vocalisations, the tragic part, and the return of the first part theme, but with more emotion at the end of the song, holds me hipnotyzed on every second of this song.

I think that Harmonium is maybe the best folk prog band I've ever hear, beating Jethro Tull, and today is my favorite progressive rock band, with King Crimson and Sagrado Coração da Terra.

Serge Fiori is a genious

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Send comments to A.Z.M.Lemos (BETA) | Report this review (#106460)
Posted Sunday, January 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I never thought I would give something in French a good review!

It has been awhile since I have really described an album this way, I usually look into an album in such a way as to find the skillful instrumentation, or innate progginess of an album. A great album will get my praise as "excellent" or "masterful". But I find myself calling this album like it is-simply put, this album is beautiful. Sure, the music is impeccably done, and masterfully produced, but above all, it is just breathtakingly pleasing to listen to. The album is a theme of seasons, as the translated title (If One Needed A Fifth Season, or sometimes referred to as "Les Cinq Saisons (the five seasons)). Each song participates. Vert is spring, Dixie summer, Depuis L'automne is autumn, En Piene is winter, and Histories Sans Paroles is the fifth season.

"Vert" (or Green in English) has some excellent flute on it, sweet and beautiful, setting the tone for the album. The vocals hit you, they are French! But you probably already knew that, and what excellent French it is! Amazing, absolutely amazing, wonderful song!

"Dixie" (Summer) is catchy, and really compliments the album well. The piano is really highlighted as skillful here, and sets more tones of sweetness. It is short, but very, very well done.

"Depuis l'automne" (or Since the autumn) is the album at its finest, with very touching, pretty (yes, I used it as a description again, it is what it is) instrumental. It is my favorite of the album, an excellent song and deeply emotional (at least in nature, as I have no idea what the lyrics mean).

"En Piene" face (on full face) is also a great song, and uses some of the best harmony voice on the album, really superb.

"Histories Sans Paroles" (Histories Without Words) is also great, in the same way as the rest. It continues some of the theme of the album.

Quite the album, a must for everyone. Si On Avait Besoin D'une 5ième Saison is everything to love about prog, with a little barber shop quartet action thrown in for good measure. Amazing, and once again, the main goal was simple, to be beautiful.

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Send comments to Scapler (BETA) | Report this review (#107168)
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
benzvi_a@kfar
5 stars well,what can I say ablot this album, this is on of those album that you are so happy you got it becuase he is so great. the great acoustic sound of HARMONIUM do that to me. every song in this album is just SO exciting, once Iv been cring to the amazing song Histoires Sans Paroles (17:12).

everything is just mixed together so good in perfect harmony. Five Stars!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#107264)
Posted Friday, January 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Possibly the most beautiful album ever, at least in my collection.

Harmonium shows us that in order to make Prog, one doesn´t have to be a virtuoso. In fact, it´s the simplicity of the arregements what makes this album so wonderful and colorful. Every little detail, every note, every instrument makes this album be the masterpiece it is. This is definitly a jewl in any kind of genre, be it prog, rock, folk or whatever...with the possible exception of metal that is! The vocals are sheer beauty (again!), and a mayor fact for it might be cause they are in french! It seems french is such a delicate and ...well beautiful language, that no matter what one says it will sound good any time. Well, I have not a clue what they are singing about, but whatever it is, it sounds excellent. Of course the highlights of the album are Depuis L'Automne and Histoires Sans Paroles with wonderful instrumentation full of mellotrons and acoustic guitars.

Si on avait...is most definitly the perfect album, every single minute of it is excellent and some of them go even beyond excellent! A true masterpiece of music. An album to listen to any time of the year.

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Send comments to el böthy (BETA) | Report this review (#108427)
Posted Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Dave_Preston@
5 stars I'm not usually a fan of non-English sung Progressive Rock. (Bit of a language phobia on my part) but occasionally my prejudice cannot ignore a classic recording even when I don't understand the language

The music has an elegance and simplicity that is as close to perfection as you can get and the aching beauty of the melodies lift this beyong mere popular myusic into the realms of serious art.

The delicacy of the mellotron and woodwind are staggering in their beauty and I can honestly say this ranks in the top 10 most impressive and essential recordings in the prog rock canon

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#111632)
Posted Sunday, February 11, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A lot of people rate this as one of their top ten records of all time. I now know why. This is a concept record based on the 4 seasons plus an extra song (season). I was reminded a little of CELESTE's "Principe Di Un Giorno" perhaps mainly because both bands do not have a drummer on these two releases. And also the liberal use of flute, mellotron, piano and acoustic guitar on both records.

"Vert" is my favourite song on this record. The warm flute melodies to open can certainly bring Spring to mind. Acoustic guitar and bass follow.This has a light, jazzy feel to it. The vocals are in French and very well done, especially the vocal melodies later in the song. "Dixie" is about Summer, and has a Ragtime feel to it. This one is an uptempo tune with clarinet, acoustic guitar and piano leading the way. Not my style usually but they impress me here. "Depuis L'Automne"(Fall) has a melancholic intro perhaps a reminder that Winter is coming. The vocals are fragile as mellotron comes in.Yes ! The mood gets more upbeat 3 minutes in, but it doesn't last for long. Some strumming guitar, more mellotron and orchestration provides some beautiful soundscapes.

"En Pleine Face" is Winter. The strumming guitar and vocals are well done.The vocal melodies later are again pretty cool. Accordion to end the song. "Histoires Sans Paroles" is my second favourite and probably the best song overall. It opens with the sounds of seagulls and waves on the beach (these sounds come back later in the song), and it makes me feel right at home (I live near a beach). Acoustic guitar and flute start us off before waves of mellotron come in. An acoustic guitar and piano melody follow as flute is then added creating a mellow and beautiful sound. Check out the female vocal melody as well. More mellotron later. Amazing song.

Without question one of the best albums i've ever heard out of Quebec and a must-have for fans of beautiful music.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#117950)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The second album by harmonium by Harmonium is nothing short of perfect, in my opinion. Much like the artwork which accompanies it, "Si On Avait Besoin d'Une Cinquième Saison" is colourful, mystical, fresh and absolutely stunning in every way possible. The music on the album is written so to reflect the atmosphere of each of the four seasons, with the exception of the last (and best) track. Mellotron, Acoustic guitar, accordion and, most importantly, the absence of drums, places "Si On Avait Besoin d'Une Cinquième Saison" in the ground between being Symphonic and Folk. It's sung entirely in french and, while french is a beautiful language, perfectly fit for this sort of music, it makes it impossible for non frensch- spkeakers to understand what this, reportedly, concept album is about, lyrically. I have an idea thanks to a very helpful forum user and several internet sites, and i only wish i could understand it completely, as it seems like a really interesting concept.

Even if there was no "Histoires sans paroles", i could still give the album 4-5 stars with a good consciense, but if i were to do that now, i would never be able to sleep again for doing it such an injustice. Simply put, all the praise that this 17-minute masterpiece has gotten by the reviewers on the site is more than deserved. The shear beauty of the entire track has made me teary-eyed so many times and i simply do not know how anybody can dislike it. Then again, not many do, apparently, as the album has maintaned its high rating after so many as 100 reviews.

It is impossible for me to be very informative or objective about this album, all i can do is twrow superlatives on it and hope that someone decides to check it out because of it.

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Send comments to Evans (BETA) | Report this review (#118128)
Posted Thursday, April 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Harmonium second album from 1975. This is the only album I own with Harmonium, and was colected by my only because I saw some very fine reviews about this album, and I decided to give some spins.Tanks god I have it only in mp3. Well I'm not gonna go with the crowd here, I don't see what the fuss with this one, really. Some very usual arrangements aswell some very boring moments. This is simply not my kind of music I want to hear. The music is to mellow for my ears and is damn usual, I know at least 500 better albums than this Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison. Sorry to deseppoint some fans, to me is 2.5 album, nothing special, really. I find it realy mediocre in comparation even with other canadian prog. Totaly non essential for my collection, and maybe for some of you.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#125709)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars If we needed a 5th season, this would be her perfect description. A relaxing work, which features a lot of good music, also thanks the flutes, which are the pros of this album, not appreciated from everyone. In fact some people think it is too "French", but I find it very far from the stereotypes... Every track is almost perfect, beginning from "Vert", arriving to "Histoire sans paroles", a suite that seems to come directly from heaven. This is the 5th season. Outstanding, unfindable and healthy.

Don't miss this LP, one of the best coming from France (only Univers Zero can be at the same level)... 5 stars

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Send comments to paloz (BETA) | Report this review (#128191)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was utterly gobsmacked when I found this album on the site, even more so when it was in the top 20! I came across this band when doing a PhD at McGill University in Canada in the mid 70s and assumed noone in the UK would have heard of them, being fairly obscure. I dug round in my loft and found the vinyl, unplayed for 25 years, so I could review it. And my memories of it are correct; nice, inoffensive and very well put together but lacking the sort of spark to excite. I also miss out on the nuances in some of the lyrics, being merely a conversational French speaker and far from fluent. The extensive use of woodwind and occasional brass, plus the structure of 4 seasons (+ an extra one?) gives it a classical but folky feel. They interpret the seasons very effectively, from the upbeat joy of summer to the cold and sombre feel of winter. Histoire sans Paroles is the best track and nearly raises it a star. It's all very pleasant but fails to live up to the classics whilst also falling behind the first class prog acts. It certainly won't offend and only a mad metal head with no emotion could give it less than 3 stars, but that's all it's getting from me. Recommended for a listen but not necessarily to buy - judge for yourself.

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Send comments to Hercules (BETA) | Report this review (#130405)
Posted Friday, July 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This masterpiece out of Quebec is one of my favorite albums of all time. It features five songs, four of which correspond to the four seasons, and one which describes an imaginary fifth season.

The first track, Vert, is a great opener, beginning with an extended flute bit before opening into some beautiful acoustic guitar work and vocals (which is present all throughout the album). The second track, Dixie, is a folky faster-paced song and a somewhat sharp contrast with the remaining songs. However, I still find it enjoyable and well-done, more so than similar songs by American rock groups of the same period. The next two tracks, representing autumn and winter, are very moody and quiet but the guitar work here is, again, remarkable, and while both of these songs don't quite measure up to the finale, they are still excellent.

Which brings me to the last track, probably one of my single favorite tracks ever, if not my favorite. Histoire Sans Paroles moves smoothly from soft acoustic passages to emotional flute playing to some of the most beautiful vocal work recorded. A magnificent moment on a great album.

In conclusion, this album is a must have for almost everyone who appreciates good music, and certainly for anyone reading this review. If you don't have it already, then go get it and give it a few listens. I admit, I wasn't too impressed the first time I heard it, but after a few listens and paying a bit more attention (the music has a tendency to become background music because of its relatively quiet nature), I quickly changed my mind.

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Send comments to kpillai (BETA) | Report this review (#132304)
Posted Wednesday, August 08, 2007 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Si On Avait Besoin D'une 5ième Saison is where Harmonium really broke through. It combines symphonic prog with folk in a wonderfully relaxing musical journey through the seasons. The thing that really stands out is the lack of drums except for an occasional Peter Gabriel-like pounding of a bass drum. The album is conceptual regarding the seasons and the addition of a fifth season, and each song matches the mood of the time of year it reflects. The lyrics are in French, and I know just enough français to sound like an idiot, so I'm afraid I don;t know much about the lyrical content of the songs. However, music always speaks louder than words.

Vert is the song for Spring, and starts almost melancholic as we bid farewell to the previous year before the song picks up with scatting vocals and a lightweight jazz feel. Dixie is a ragtime number that jovially ushers in summer. The piano and clarinet have lovely solos at the end Depuis L'Automne has some stunning vocal harmonies that bring to mind Gentle Giant. It is more somber than the first two tracks, considering autumn is the season where everything dies. However, it is never really sad. The guitar is incredible in this song as is the mellotron. The entire song captures the fragile nature of fall, and the music sounds as if it is carried by the same wind that strips the trees of their dead leaves. En Plein Face keeps with the somber ethereal sound of the last song, only it's even darker. Makes sense, considering the days are shorter, and much of winter is barren. Then comes the hands-down highlight of the album, Histoires Sans Paroles. The flute in this song can challenge Ian Anderson's claim to the folk flute throne. The vocals are stunningly beautiful, and Serge Fiori's lead vocals are some of the most gut-wrenchingly lovely performances I've heard.

To me, this album is like folk opera. I can't understand the words, but the music and the vocals are so overwhelming I can't help but be touched. I probably give out to many five star ratings, but this is one of those albums that is a masterpiece beyond reproach. This Quebeçois group made an obscure gem that has managed to finally get the recognition it deserves through this site. Find this album, and get it.

Grade: A

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#133204)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars A prime example of a wonderful and unique collection of music that I likely would never have been exposed to without help of ProgArchives. This album leaves me happy, relaxed, awestruck and entralled every time. The album art only accentuates the mood that these songs convey: pastels, butterflies, bunnies and hippies are exactly what I picture when I really get into this record. The only album that I really can compare this to is An Evening with Petrucci and Rudess, given the absence of percussion and the unique sound and atmosphere, though the comparison is admittedly inadequate. Of course, this has much more diverse instrumentation and texture, and is also a hands-down masterpiece.

Vert. A dreamy yet lively opener. We quickly discover the impressive harmonies these vocalists can create: in-tune, yet not overly produced so as to lose their emotion and rawness. I also especially enjoy the energetic bassline.

Dixie. An EXTREMELY catchy tune that is not especially creative with the basic chords or structure, but which does show that these guys are very respectable musicians. I find the interplay between the guitar and piano to be absolutely phenomenal, but let's not forget the clarinet either!

Depuis l'Automne. Harmonium show that they know how to construct an extended piece. A thoughtful and emotional introduction leads to one of the most beautifully unique instrumentals I have ever heard. A crisp echoed guitar crackles over a distant soprano sax (at least that's my best guess) and beautiful mellotron, and this section just melts into a mesmerizing vocal harmony. The texture and instrumentation here is unique and breathtaking. Then we get not one, but two, nice builds and catchy vocal harmonies to close the tune.

En Pleine Face. The mellow track of the album, but quite well-done of course, and the accordian adds yet a different sound and feel to keep things fresh and interesting.

Histoire Sans Paroles. This is an absolute emotional rollercoaster, running the gamut (in the order that I experience them) from reminiscent to anxious to dreamy to overwhelmed to pensive to joyous. I'm not one to usually be emotionally influenced much by music, but every time I hear this song, I think of previous loves, opportunities missed, times of extreme uncertainty, and moments of overwhelming happiness and satisfaction. All of this is accomplished from the relatively simple combination of absolutely gorgeous melodies, near-perfect transitions, restrained yet focused playing, and arrangements that could not have been done better.

One of those rare musical gifts that keeps on giving, and in ways that no other albums can (at least for me). My highest recommendation.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#137440)
Posted Sunday, September 09, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would hardly call Harmonium a "symphonic prog" band. All of their albums, in my opinion, belong in the folk-prog genre. Not only do they belong there, but they actually helped *define* the way the genre should be handled. Harmonium had a profound and undisputable influence on all of Quebec's folk bands since the release of their first album.

It can be argued "Harmonium en tournée" is a better offering because of how singer Serge Fiori seems to put his life at risk every moment he's performing there (I would strongly recommend "L'Exil" for those of you who're currently discovering Harmonium's works and don't know where to start after La Cinquième Saison).

But really, their best song ever is probably "Histoires sans paroles", a pure jewel of pastoral rock that I actually overlooked for about ten years before realizing how the apparent simplicity of its melody could be misleading. This is definitely progressive folk at its best, a 17-minute epic that really can't be compared to anything else. It plays at the same level as Genesis' Supper's Ready, or Yes' Close to the Edge, really. It's a shame it's not as popular in the progressive circles. Hopefully one day these artists will be as widely recognized worldwide as they are in Canada (and, to a lesser extent, in France).

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Send comments to Nao/Gilles (BETA) | Report this review (#138742)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I discovered Harmonium while living in Quebec. Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison is the best of all their great albums. This one is an absolute Masterpiece with each song a different, yet perfect song that will take you to a beautiful place. I would recommend anything from Harmonium and Serge Fiori but non more than this work of perfection.

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Send comments to SymphProgLover (BETA) | Report this review (#139882)
Posted Saturday, September 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I have a few thins to say before the review gets started. I have discovered about the amazing music of Harmonium here in ProgArchives. Since then, I've searched a lot about this wonderful band and have found out how great it is.

Starting to talk further about this album, one differencial can be noted: they didn't wear any drums. When I first realized that, I thought that this band can't be so good. But when I listened to this album I saw how wrong I was. All tracks are great, specially ''Dixie'' and ''Depuis L'Automne ''. They surelly catch our attentions.

That's for that, and a lot of more things, that I recommend it. Without any doubt: Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music!

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Send comments to ProgPeter! (BETA) | Report this review (#140975)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10 Masterpiece

Oh. My. God. There isn't much to say that can't be found in other reviews, so I will keep this short...also maybe because words do this no justice? Anyway, this album need be experienced by mood lovers, emotional, ecstatic, heightened sensitive people interested in blissful, perfect musicianship and ideas. Every single track, moment, note, tone...everything, on here, is perfect. This happened to be one of the first albums in a foreign language to me, and I feel in love right away with the mystery and beauty of that idea. The vocals are incredible, carrying on from the first album, but the music on hear ranges far beyond what we find on the debut. Mind-blowing, the best track is hard to pick but I must say "Histoires Sans Paroles" just because it is entirely impossible to describe its high points, while the same cannot be said for the other tracks. Another masterpiece flies under the radar, incredible, enjoy it if you know!

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Send comments to The Lost Chord (BETA) | Report this review (#145428)
Posted Wednesday, October 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars As regular reader and occasional reviewer, it's about time i add my word about this true masterpiece. I won't add too much about the music itself as others have mentioned pretty accurately what's about it: nice flowing pastoral music in the vein of early acoustic Genesis or similar to a certain vein of the Italian prog school (PFM or Celeste come to mind). It's mainly as Quebecois i wish to add some considerations. Few words have been said about the social and politics issues underlying the first level of the lyrics based on the seasons and thus the cycle of life. True that Life, in the sense Serge Fiori did intend it, appeal to Quebec history: 70's mid period brought a sovereinist government to the fore and at this point, Quebecois did enter a five year period leading to a referendum about the issue of our independancy. What i want people to understand here is how big Harmonium were at that moment in Quebec, far beyond the audience any prog rock group could pretend. Think about Bono's issues in the nineties for exemple, or say the "We are the world" collective song for Africa, and you just get the idea what was it for Harmonium and Quebec in the seventies.

In Serge Fiori you had the charismatic leader whose voice, litteraly and symbolicaly could transport the masses. I'm one of those who did attend their concerts and we truly felt in sort of a (pagan) liturgy, full of emotions and collective soul. At the end, and as another quebecois has noted in these pages, Quebec is still Canada's part, but the artistic dimension and poetic message is still prevailing in Harmonium work of love, which is always the case with masterpieces, making in sort that that local particularities of a cultural work reach to the universal. That's why "Si on avait besoin..." never would sound dated, mellotron or not...

Five stars quite evidently

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Send comments to bertolino (BETA) | Report this review (#145664)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The best canadian album ever. Quite a statement, but this is honestly way better than Neil Young or Rush or... The Guess Who. The music on this album is just so perfect. It starts out with Vert, which might be the best song on the album starts out with this trippy echoing flute and then goes into one of the best melodies I have ever heard. Dixie is the most feel good song I have ever heard, and I don't even know what the f*ck they're saying. Depuis L'Automne isn't quite as great as the first two, but it is still remarkably engaging and catchy for a long track. En Pleine Face is another very catchy song that reflects the season it represents very well (Winter for this one). Histoires Sans Paroles is an epic instrumental track except for some wordless vocals that isn't very memorable but has many good melodies. In my opinion this is one of the greatest albums ever recorded, essential to everyone; you're missing out if you haven't heard it.

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Send comments to King Crimson776 (BETA) | Report this review (#152162)
Posted Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
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.

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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#153185)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was not overwhelmed with joy while listening to the first album of Harmonium. Basic folk songs all the way through. Nothing to write home about actually.

My expectations were quite high while I discovered their second album (and presumably their masterpiece) Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison.

This album doesn't start any better. Vert is just another folkish French tune (even if this is a Canadian band) and Dixie is probably the worst song that Harmonium has ever produced. Not a brilliant start for a masterpiece.

The first great song from this album is Depuis l'Automne. A mix of acoustic matters and some superb mellotron (but not as much as I would have liked). This melodic song is of course pleasant, but frankly : there are hundreds of better ones featured on this site for review. The crescendo vocal finale is a good moment, I confess.

The relative short En Pleine Face is again purely in the folk vein. Nothing to do with symphonic prog. But the story is finally different with the closing epic (it was about time to get a true great song). Mellotron- based, it features some great instrumental parts (most of it).

Actually, there aren't lyrics here (hence the title : story without words). This long song is a good mix between folk and symphonic prog. Excellent flute backed up with sweet acoustic guitars. A beautiful and delicate work. By far the best track available on this album. I usually only listen to Histoires Sans Paroles while spinning this album.

My general feeling is that I don't necessarily need a fifth season. Four is OK. If it weren't for the great closing number, this album would be just an average one on my scale. As such three stars. This album is by far the most overrated on PA. A good work, not more.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#158445)
Posted Saturday, January 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Beautiful album. I'm not going to break it down track back track or even describe to you the music because I'll let it speak for itself. Being a person who does not know a word of French I love this album because I have no idea what he's saying. Focusing rather on his voice as instrument rather than the words being spoken. And the instruments themselves. Creating an atmosphere and coming alive in a way we rarely see in music. The cover art accompanies this album perfectly. It shows the group on a grassy hill in what could be interpreted as a musica Utopia and that's what it is to some. Try not to think too much about it, close your eyes and enjoy it rather than hear it, listen to it.

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Send comments to shentile (BETA) | Report this review (#160336)
Posted Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
obiter
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Another welcome discovery through PA.

This is a very pleasant beautifully paced album taking the listener through the various moods of the seasons. I cannot agree that this album is perfection, however, it combines in almost perfect balance elements of folk, symphonic and even a gentle pop rock. My only reservation with the album is Dixie which seems incongruous to my ear.

There are two absolute prog crackers in this album. You have the benefit of being able to listen to one of them Depuis l'Automne from the stream above. Judge for yourself. I find it beautiful, and soothing. I expect great music to lift me up and inculcate an emotional response, whatever that might be depending on the genre. This album lifts me up and carries me away. THis is not achieved by complexity and virtuosity but through simple and measured progression. Chord progressions that leave you thinking: I could play that, where's my 12-string? Let's go outside and sit in the sun and relax. Unfortunately I don't have a 12 string and it's p---ing down outside as usual (typical irish weather): so back to Harmonium, crack open a bottle of wine and join in the dream of the passing seasons as night closes in outside....

Bliss

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Send comments to obiter (BETA) | Report this review (#160839)
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of the reason why i'm so proud of my country! It show all of the elements that make folk progressive so great. This is a good exemple how to do something as marvelous as it is simple. It is not perfect, but its contribution to progressive music is really wide in inspiration and innovations.

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Send comments to Mike Giles (BETA) | Report this review (#161610)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Wow, they lived few blocks away from sister-in-law!

Oh Montreal, you are so full of surprises. Beneath your multi-cultural cauldron and somewhat gayish attitude, you are a castle for progressive music. Proof is Harmonium, perhaps the most deified rock band of all Quebec. Where I live, talking against Harmonium is simply asking to be stoned by the minute, considering that this band has been almost an ambassador for the political separatism party of Quebec. They are adored (the word is feeble) by more than one generation, and kids are legions to discover this classic out of their father's LP collection (I am one).

As my progressive buddy Cédric and I were arguying about french as a good progrock language, he convinced me (again) of not spitting of classics and giving Harmonium what they deserved. Well, for a 20 year-old guy, he surely has a lot of taste and musical maturity. Thanks buddy, I owe you one....again.

Oh yeah, this being in french is nothing to be feared, considering the immensity of the mellotron, the flute and the acoustic guitar, making me realize more and more where Wobbler got their unique sound and laid-back and flaky attitude. Once again, the 70's speaks for themselves, and I recommend strongly to get a taste of this piece of rock history, straight from the cold plains of Quebec Province.

Thin as the air of the winter but gorged with the scent of fallen leaves.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#162845)
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars I got this at Xmas because it was in the top 10 and never before has a CD disappointed me. As a lover of symphonic progressive rock, mainly Genesis, Yes, ELP, IQ, camel etc, how the hell can this wishy-washy folk album get above of the top 5 albums by the above bands? I gave it two listenings and once in the bath to give it a chance to be reviewed as a relaxing ambient CD. Nope, it just didn't work. Got no gripe with anybody liking this CD, but above works like Tales from Topographic Oceans, nope time to give thia a low one to even the balance. Rarely have I been SO disappointed........

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Send comments to M27Barney (BETA) | Report this review (#163373)
Posted Friday, March 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have no words to describe this album... is simply perfect: the guitars, the voices, the mellotron!! everything is just in the perfect place in the perfect time, this album show that you can make beautiful music with only acoustic instruments; distortion or inclusive drums aren't necessary to make a masterpiece of symphonic prog rock. Every time I hear it I like it more, every song is great, it had no low points and because of that it deserves 5 stars, essential album in any collection

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Send comments to larra (BETA) | Report this review (#164791)
Posted Sunday, March 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Why this is labeled Symphonic Prog on this site is beyond me. If ever there was a group that deserved the Folk Prog label, it is this band, and I would humbly suggest that the designation be changed. So Symph fans, you have been warned. This is Prog Folk, without a doubt, with the emphasis on the Folk.

Having said that, this is a beautiful and stunning album. The complete lack of percussion should have probably tipped off people looking for a Symphonic masterpiece, but as Sean Trane says, you won't miss it. The best of this album is the two long pieces, both of which feature lovely acoustic playing accompanied by flutes and mellotrons. All of this is excellently done. These two tracks make the album worth owning for me. But don't expect a typical prog epic. Think the mellower parts of the first Crimson or Genesis Nursery Cryme. This is also not a complex show off of instrumental ability. What it IS, is one of the most stunningly beautiful albums I've ever heard. At least the two long tracks.

As to the other 3 tracks, they are more in the standard folk rock (or just plain folk) vein. To my ears anyway. The best is probably the first song, which has a pretty upbeat tempo and more rock and roll atmosphere. Dixie, is very much a bouncy folk tune, and my least favorite of the tracks here, though still entertaining at least. En Pleine Face is a pretty song, but I can never recall how it sounds after hearing it. Histoires Sans Paroles gives the album 4 stars all by itself, a fantastic and beautiful instrumental piece with some lovely wordless vocal harmonies, stellar flute playing and wonderful mellotron. Depuis L'Automne, while not as stellar, has many of the same qualities, but features vocals (with actual lyrics) more prominently.

All in all, a great album but not quite a masterpiece for me. Again, don't expect Symphonic prog. Expect Folk Prog, and you will not be disappointed. A solid 4 stars.

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Send comments to infandous (BETA) | Report this review (#167920)
Posted Friday, April 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars WHAT HAPPENED IF WE'LL DISCOVER THE FIFTH SEASON???

A very rare and original stuff here! I discovered this band 2 months ago. Well, the music seems here to be from one or two centuries ago . It's a material designed to be listened standing on a porch, with a beautiful landscape in front of your eyes....and dreaming to the girl of your life. For me, this canadian sextet means poetry meeting music with classic influences. I like very much the lyrics in French language; it does nothing but increasing the dose of melancholy and longing for something beautiful and in the same time, weird...The mixture of classic and acoustic instruments such as flute, acoustic guitar with electronic instruments such as Mellotron and synth is a complete success IMO. The first song made the entrance with the romantic style of the band. The voice is well adapted itself to the music. Very excellent flute intro and the musical spectrum is very romantic. There are lot of folk influences alongside the entire album. Dixie is typically a rhytmic song, not specific to the entire album. Almost I'd like to pass over it. En plein Face is standing at the same level of folk music foundation, mostly the introducing of acordeon is reasonable. Basically, there are 2 songs which are essential and true masterpieces of progressive music: Depuis L'Autonne and Histoire sans Paroles. The key-song is, beyond doubt, Histoire sans Paroles. It is here that we meet the definition of progressive music. The finest guitar sound and the harmony of flute and Mellotron all together with the vocalisations are unique and it predisposes anyone to day dreams and inner silence.

Actually, the sound in general is rather acoustic, not a trace of any sound of electric guitar, only the use of Mellotron and synthesisers make the music more adapted to the 70's. Not bad at all, but I think 5 stars is a little to much for this album, even if the general impression is that of a masterpiece. I listened and listened Si On avait....again and again and the conclusion is that only songs No.3 and 5 must be rated 5 stars,IMO. Sorry, folks!

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Send comments to Sachis (BETA) | Report this review (#168518)
Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Harmonium - Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison

This album is, in short, very good.

HARMONIUM sounded great on their debut (in my opinion at least) but added so much more raw emotion and power and--what many bands lack--melody to this one that it is virtually unstoppable as a prog force and clearly discernible masterpiece. Simply put: This is, with no doubt in my mind, one of the most melodically, rhythmically, and progressively strong albums I've ever heard...

Each song is, in relative terms, it's own "mini-masterpiece", and the album flows so well as a whole (thanks in part to the unifying concept of seasons, and the "If We Needed A Fifth Season" idea the album is named after.) that, before one even begins to realize it, it has drawn to its dramatic close.

Now the music:

We begin with summer, a relatively minor-key and down beat (yet fitting) opener that really sets the album in motion. You will be hard pressed not to find yourself imagining pollen floating in the air, yellow and green fields, and all of those pleasant images summer embodies... The follower--Spring--varies things up a bit, throwing Harmonium into a square-dance-like jig with great clarinet and piano solos/duets--this song never stops and it just makes you smile; which consequently is a good thing because of what's to follow.

Autumn is simply one of the most beautiful songs that has ever graced my ears--I actually cried the first time I heard it (no joke.and this is crazy, considering how incredibly rarely I cry)...it's just so well orchestrated and executed--so emotional...and the melodies are breathtaking; this is the point in the album where you are thinking, despite yourself: "Wow!" .and fittingly enough, this describes it all too well. Then you are finally forced to leave the nostalgic season behind, and you enter the wake of Desolate Mr. Winter: Beginning in a very low key manner, with sounds like howling wind, before enchanting you in its own oddly vibrant face. This song is, in my opinion, all about memories. Which is the great thing about the album. Winter is, by nature, desolate. Yet the song is not at all. It is the warm-fire (harpsichord anyone?), chocolate-chip-cookies, bedtime stories, the playing in the snow with friends side of winter. It is pleasant and very.fitting. Sad almost, in a very fitting, nostalgic way. Winter is the season of dying, even when describing the human cycle; when one is old, he is in his years of winter--remembrance. Which I believe is exactly what Harmonium is striving for here: with the recurring themes from Summer knocking at the door. We are old, yes, but we are happy.sad, yet hopeful. Amazing.

The last track though, is what makes this album the absolute masterpiece it is. The Fifth Season is absolutely stunning and without a doubt the most beautiful piece of music I've yet to hear in my life (unless of course you count this whole album as a unified "piece", and also perhaps barring some Philip Glass pieces). It is so well arranged and performed--it's awe-inspiring, depressing, uplifting, mystifying, trance-inducing--everything in one immaculately wrapped bag. It's one amazingly epic track that lasts just long enough.the perfect closer, the perfect song.the perfect album--and one of the very few.

Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison absolutely belongs in every prog fan's collection, no matter what you're into!

Harmonium has conquered all with this masterpiece--and it is, without a single doubt in my mind, one of the undisputed and definite masterpieces music has spawned.

A complete 10 on my scale, and 5 Stars easily on this one. If you don't own it yet: Why not!?

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Send comments to Figglesnout (BETA) | Report this review (#170849)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars What has always drawn me to progressive music more than anything else is my unending, insatiable desire to hear something I've never heard before. Ever since I was but a wee toddler plopping yellow plastic 45s on the phonograph music has been an indispensable part of my being and I want to continue to experience new, unusual and intriguing works of aural art as long as I live. It doesn't matter if it's found in the splendor of Beethoven's symphonies, the thunderous ferocity of Dream Theater or the sensuous spirituality of Iona; I crave to be enraptured by the creations of musicians who dare to manipulate sound waves in a thrilling manner that I never expected. And as long as there are albums in the world like this gem from Harmonium I feel confident that I'll always be able to discover something delightfully unexpected to send traveling across my eardrums.

I have several hundred CDs, cassettes and LPs in my personal collection but I don't have anything like this. It is unique. First of all, there are no drums (and I LOVE good drumming). Secondly, it's in French and I have no idea what they're singing. (That's okay, I don't always understand what I hear sung in English, either.) But it's not just those two facets that make this such a pleasing diversion from the norm. It's also Harmonium's combination of instrumentation and their highly imaginative composition skills that make this such a fantastic journey to go on. This I know for certain: Great prog music knows no boundaries and refuses to conform to what we think it should be.

"Vert" (Spring) starts things off with a duet of Serge Fiori and Pierre Dagneault's sprightly flutes that lead to a combo of acoustic guitar, electric piano and vocals in a jazzy folk tune where Louis Valois' walking bass supplies the needed drive. When Pierre masterfully intertwines multiple tracks of his soprano sax during the extended jam you have to remind yourself that all the energy the band is generating beneath him is being produced without the aid of percussion. While this number is the least proggy of the bunch, it never lags for a second and it sets up the rest of the album perfectly.

"Dixie" (Summer) has a wonderfully light and carefree spirit running through it that is irresistible. Fiori's zither harp adds a warmth to this song and its distinct Dixieland flavor makes me think of Gershwin gone Creole. Dagneault's riveting clarinet, Michel Normandeau's playful guitar and Serge Locat's hot piano contribute individual solos that can best be described with one word. Fun. (And everyone can use more of that!) If you're ever having a rough day and need a lift, this tune is a sure- fire remedy that won't insult your prog intelligence or sensibilities.

A somber, droning fade-in at the onset of "Depuis L'Automne" (Fall) announces a change of mood as arresting as the first cool breeze of Autumn. This track is more than twice as long as the first two, allowing the group to stretch out a bit. The lulling melody sung over acoustic guitars pulls you into a huge chorus of Oooohs backed by the cavernous Mellotron chordings of Locat and you soon find yourself mentally strolling the streets of heaven. The second verse is more powerful thanks to a fluid piano and even more emotional singing. Once the middle instrumental section arrives the song opens up and creates pure magic with Mellotron, guitar and sax swirling around each other in a pastiche of colors. After a return to the chanting chorus they develop a slow, steady buildup to a very passionate ending.

"En Pleine Face" (Winter) is dutifully reflective without becoming predictable, morose or overly profound and the inspired introduction of Michel's accordion can take a lot of credit for preventing that from happening. While the accordion is obviously not an "accepted" prog instrument, it's ideal for this tune and yet another example of how surprising this band can be. The song's soulful melody just may be the most memorable of all five cuts and that's saying a lot.

The culmination of this fabulous artwork is the majesty of the 17-minute "Histoires Sans Parole." This mostly instrumental epic begins with flute, guitar and Mellotron and it's nothing short of gorgeous on a grand scale. It's rare that a group graciously allows the majesty of the Mellotron to take center stage and here Locat displays his virtuosity on the "symphony-in-a-box" several times. The track evolves into an excellent guitar chord riff rising over a tinkling piano before entering an almost fantasy-like environment where you're treated to a spectacular phantasmagoria of musical tones and inflections. The Mellotron-manufactured orchestra leads you back down to terra firma where a flowing piano plays underneath wordless vocals and swirling flute lines. After a brief reprise of the fantasy you wake up next to ocean waves, serenaded by soprano sax and flute over acoustic guitar. It takes a genuine artist's touch to patiently allow a tune to build on its own without forcing the issue and in that ability this group does an extraordinary job. What's amazing is how the song changes direction so effortlessly that, before you realize it, you're in a totally different musical landscape. It's uncanny. The number ends with a flourish from Pierre's flute and you find yourself wanting more.

When I found this site one of the top ten albums that caught my attention was this particular one because I'd never in my life heard of these guys. Now I know there's an outstanding reason for it being so revered and respected. It defies description in its simple complexity and stands completely outside the box. It's an admirable achievement of excellence from the first note to the last, proving perhaps more than any other album I know of that progressive music can't and won't be pigeon-holed into a limited, prescribed corner. I will always be thankful to ProgArchives for bringing this awesome masterpiece into my little world. I will cherish each and every listen.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#172276)
Posted Monday, May 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars HARMONIUM's second album is an attempt to incorporate progressive sensibilities into their folk music. By and large it succeeds, though on a rather subdued level, serving as a prelude to 'L'Heptade', their best work.

The basic premise here is to portray musically what a fifth season would be like. The first four tracks represent the current four seasons, while the epic fifth track 'Histoires sans Paroles' is the new season. The trouble begins at this point: not only do I not quite 'get' the concept - why is the new season so variable musically? How does it fit between winter and spring? - I'm not convinced by any of the previous 'seasons', bar winter. 'Dixie', for example, is supposed to represent summer. How? It's jaunty and lighthearted but such music needs something more than cheerfulness to get its message across. How is 'Dixie' a season? I thought it was a place. Don't they have summers in Quebec? And where's the deep snow, Arctic storms, crisp frosts and exploding pines of a Canadian winter? 'En Pleine Face' is nothing more than a gentle ballad. As an aside, the most interesting part of the song, the accordion work, fades out just as it gets going.

Stop over-analysing and enjoy the music, you cry. Well, OK, but there's more trouble here. The vocalists are sometimes flat (noticeable in the opening song, for example). The instrumental palette is rather limited, with little of the scope, sweep and grandeur of the best progressive music. I'm self-aware enough to realise that this is perhaps my perception of prog-folk as a whole, and that my criticism is a little churlish. So let me add that there is real beauty in places: 'Vert' works well, for example, lovely melodies flowing over a distinctive bass (and it needs to be distinctive, with the almost total lack of percussion). 'Depuis d'automne' tries to bring in a sterner mood, but even then the overwhelming impression is one of tranquility - where I live autumn can be tempestuous. I'm minded of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' symphony and how it is possible to inject raw power into music of fragile beauty. That said, 'Depuis d'automne' is an excellent track, with an excellent vocal-led climax - as long as you forget it's supposed to be a season.

'Histoires Sans Paroles' redeems the album. This is as good as anything RENAISSANCE or CAMEL or any of the more highly regarded 'soft' prog bands conjured up during their careers. Seldom can there have been a more compelling statement made for the integrity of the mellotron in modern music.

In the end, the album falls short. These are seasons I don't need to take shelter from. This album is as playful as a sparkling brook, cheerful as Pollyanna and pretty as a sunset, but it doesn't dive or soar. I'm left unmoved, with my feet firmly stuck to the ground. Ultimately I want more than 'nice' from prog rock.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#173094)
Posted Thursday, June 05, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars I heard Harmonium's first album sometime in the 80s and have been haunted by their sound ever since. To see one of their albums ranked in the all-time top 100 was very exciting for me, so I bought it and have been listening to every day since. I agree: It is a masterpiece. The LP has a very Ant "Geese and Ghost" feel to it, the guitars and refreshing and unusual rhythms luring you into each song like the fireplace at an old friend's house on a cold, blustery night. The use of mellotron is sparing and often brilliantly timed---practically unexpected but always a pleasant surprise.

The first song, , opens, quite appropriately, with echoes of a flute before the gentle vocals and guitars take us into the song. The song's bass and keys are a bit dated and "hoaky," and the melodies or chord sequences never really "hook" us, making this the album's weakest song. (7/10)

is one of the happiest, upbeat songs I've ever heard, beginning deceptively with a very old-time 1900s folksie/bluegrass to 1920s ragtime feel to it but then, wow! Let that rhythm keep setting up the soloists all night! Brilliant! Keep pounding that piano, strumming those stringed instruments (where's the banjo?) till the neighbors fall off the porch! (10/10) is a masterful prog song in the vein of the early greats of Genesis and Crimson and the Moodies. The guitar & clarinet improv at the 5 minute mark are absolutely brilliantly supported by mellotron before vocal "ooos" set up the song's high point: the building layers of harmonic vocals over the strumming of multiple guitars and a catchy synth riff. The vocal line that is then repeated to get to the song's end would, I imagine, be a great one to shout out with the band in a live performance, should one know French. (9/10)

is an amazingly well crafted song, with very mature and virtuosic commands of sound dynamics both in the instrumentation and the vocals. It has one of the catchiest outros ever, with its beautiful use of accordian, to usher us on to the "fifth" season. (10/10)

The "instrumental" is a simple yet convoluted piece of art with a folksy, almost-Celtic heaviness to it: flute and woodwinds and guitars and other strings interspersed with piano/keys with mellotronics used to tie sections together all taking one on a very innocent though tension-filled, visual journey. I absolutely love the simple two-chord climb to resolution from the 11:00 minute mark to the 14:30 climax followed by the shift with the flute into the band's collective answer. (9/10)

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Send comments to BrufordFreak (BETA) | Report this review (#175013)
Posted Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Being from English Canada I can say my knowledge of French Canadian music is imperfect at best. Even though I went through French immerssion school from pre-school straight up to twelth grade I was never interested in it. It has too strange a style for my sensitive little Anglo ears.

All that boring personal crap aside, Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison is most exceptional and surprising album I have yet had the pleasure of hearing. It is relaxed, insightful, passionate and all together enjoyable. It manages to easy transcend the cultural barrier which was stood in the way of my other attempts to listen to french music. Languge isn't important on this album. Serge Fiori commicates with remarkable clearity without it.

The final phase of Depuis L'Automne is one of my favourite pieces of music, period. It is totally electrifying. Being able to understand what he is saying does add a little wieght but it is just as powerful without it.

Anyone who is the slightest bit curious about this album should do themselves a favour and give it a listen. C'est une véritable trésor!

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Send comments to R-A-N-M-A (BETA) | Report this review (#180658)
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This albums first impression on me was a disappointing. Prog should not be elevator music. And inspired with romantic melodic themes, solely played with non-rythmical instruments, I would not concider it prog rock. Prog rock claims attention!

This be said, I eventually put the record back on the player, and focused more on the atmosphere it created. After a couple of heats, I started loving this akward music, feeling with the guitars, relating to the singers emotions, letting the deep and simple bumble bee-like bass guitar touch my heart. Despite some small musical flaws, and sometimes loosing the direction (last track); this is not about perfection but a cosy time with some musicians sitting in the room with you one late night playing their hearts out. A night where you want to be the last person going to bed! Even my wife likes this kind of prog... She gave me a good picture on the Dixie: Imagine a joyful man on an old bike, riding peacfully watching life around, maybe with a mustache, a beret on his head and a small picnic-basket in front of him.

For a really good and qualified review on this, please read the one from Fitzcarraldo.

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Send comments to greetingsfrombergen (BETA) | Report this review (#183565)
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars I return to this website after - another - long hiatus and it is to post a review that I felt was important, seeing as I am in the minority that is lukewarm to this album. Is this the most overrated album on this website or what? It's beautiful in a manner of speaking, inoffensive and warm but do you have to listen to a progressive rock album for THAT? It's too 'happy' to move me, nor is it so bouncy and ecstatic that it gives me a pick-up after a hard day's work. The music is technically beyond reproach but it is also lacking in any chutzpah or imagination or well the sort of imagination that would make me sit up and notice in a progressive rock album. Not one movement grabbed me or surprised me, it is so comfortingly familiar that it puts me to sleep and I don't consider that a positive attribute in my music. I don't understand French but that's not really a factor in forming my opinion because firstly I don't attach too much importance to lyrics in progressive music and am more interested in the compositional effort. Secondly, there's nothing in the singing that affects me in a bad way. Unfortunately, like the rest of the album, it doesn't affect me in a positive way, it sounds nice and sweet that's all. I have noticed bands that make glorified (extreme should we say??) elevator music like Opeth or Agalloch get a lot of praise these days for their work and used to think it was a modern phenomenon. Now I know I was wrong, it is a phenomenon that pervades the 70s too. Too good to put down, but not good enough to get my thumbs-up either. 3 stars is all I give.

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Send comments to rogerthat (BETA) | Report this review (#184294)
Posted Wednesday, October 01, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album revived my desire to discover new prog. I go in phases of seeking out new artists and albums and then listening to those I have and adding nothing new. Finding Harmonium sparked my greatest prog collecting period since I first got into it several years ago.

The album is mostly elaborate folk music. But because it is from French-Canada (where there is a rich tradition of local folk music) the sound is unique. This album is often celebrated as one of the finest transition albums ever. I don't really like the terminology because it implies that transition albums have a lower ceiling for potential greatness. I do agree that it is an obvious link between there first and third albums, but the songwriting is stellar enough to simply call it one of prog's finest albums. I strongly recommend this album, especially to those who are hesitant to listen to music outside of their language. I hold a small but marked preference for lyrics in English, but at this point I've actually taken to trying to sing along with the French, and even had a French friend of mine translate the lyrics for me.

I think the greatest aspect of this album is that while it does borrow from the progressive rock techniques bag it has a sound that is uniquely from Harmonium. They were less interested in finding a niche of prog or employing particular traits of progressive rock and more interested in just writing an album that reflected their musicianship and muscial tastes. The band is well known in Quebec and were playing to that audience more than imitating other prog styles in order to reach a more global audience. This authenticity is apparent and Harmonium fans are grateful for the band's dedication to their own sound.

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Send comments to AngleofRepose (BETA) | Report this review (#187749)
Posted Sunday, November 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars 4.5 Stars really. I find this to be a very hard album to give a final rating. The first 4 shorter tunes are all pleasant....well done...borderline between 3 and 4 star songs for me. They are all folky with acoustic guitars and some keyboards and they are all very nicely sung. 'Histoires Sans Paroles' is 17 minutes of ultimate prog masterpiece. This tune is so different and so hauntingly beautiful it is hard to describe. There are no drums, no rhythym really, but the song is simply amazing. If you enjoy mellow mellow this album really is a must have.

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Send comments to digdug (BETA) | Report this review (#188257)
Posted Friday, November 07, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Words can't describe the amount of emotion and beauty is absorbed through my ears. Each time I listen to this album, my brain is at its most relaxed and my body just loosens up as my ears process this auditory euphoria through my mind. As the music swells within my ears, the smile upon my lips widen as my body continues its magical euphonious journey that is this masterpiece of an album.

Though I may be late on my part to be praising this album, this album certainly cannot be praised enough for it is perhaps the epitome of beauty and grace within the musical medium. Each song offers the kind of emotion, the kind of music that you would expect to receive from a full sized orchestra. As I listen to this album, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons are constantly reminded as each song represents each of the seasons with an extra, imaginary but mellifluous sounding fifth season that is one of the many highlights of this album.

The songs are simple but there is something within their simplicity that brings out the most in them. Simple as they may be but the amount of emotion and dedication each of the musicians put in to each of their respective instruments make these simple songs sound like as if they have the same kind of emotion, dedication, communication, and cooperation of a full sized orchestra. I do not know if what I have said so far makes any kind of sense to you readers out there but it is apparent that this album will definitely show what true musicians are capable of producing if they're mentally and physically together.

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Send comments to faceofdoomness (BETA) | Report this review (#188583)
Posted Monday, November 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
5 stars 01. Vert Flutes, many flutes, starts the hit! And there is the guitars that recheiam the entire disc in giving the air of grace, with a low reeds and well letterhead. And gives you the sophisticated vocal harmonies and duplicate. The vocals are a part and say the case is all the movement in French, which is sensational, it is very good 'unaccustomed ears.

02. Dixie I am in a cabaret! Certainly that is what I said and I felt when I heard this music for the first time one has the distinct impression that we are in a cabaret, dancers dressed in red and blue espalhafatosos, cowboys, and Honky Tonk piano eating loose. (Bela release)

03. Depuis L'automne The highlight of this music is for sure the voice of Serge Fiori and its melodies are sure that with a case in the band, the keyboard wonderful then, the vocalizations. And in the middle begins a wonderful journey, with effects on guitars, keyboard, type 'wind' and the style of Tony Banks (Genesis), and a closing of sax counterpoint. The guitars return, return the vocalizations, the music is a growing and involves you in full, then go back the vocals. Absurdly fantastic!

04. En Plein Face Then the second part of the LP begins with a beautiful fingering and a vocal melody that reminds me of good things (even without really knowing what is being sung, but it is not the wonder of music?). Acordeons enter and leave the climate of France even more sensational and bucolic, a strange landscape comes to mind. Vocal-type headphones and invade the coral boxes of sound, without battery (indeed, the whole disc) and without percussion. And it is necessary? Not for sure not!

05. Histoires San Paroles Sounds of the ocean open the disc's epic of 17'12, flute and guitar in a couple exciting leads us to think because of all the hatred of the world. And a big influence of Tony Banks (Genesis) on keyboards of Serge locate. Then melodies of guitars intertwine worked so well, showing that virtuosity is not always necessary, but feeling as soon followed with melodies that remind me a soundtrack to a dream, strange and surreal. Surrealism Folk! Vocalizations special Judy Richard make a progressive touch to the Renaissance to the song. Sax and flute are opposed to low and guitars, keyboards are the 'bed' we throw it to other ideas and dreams and ideals. A kind of circus comes to light with emphasis on the phrasing well embedded low and piano, then this is where the flutes take account and we are told that the hearing will not be as before. Never!

A disc that has not been known to do it is now because deserves! Sure.

www.progshine.com

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#196887)
Posted Friday, January 02, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album grabs you by the throat right from the first spin.....absolutely fantastic and deeply, deeply emotionak music...is what Harmonioum producing.

I must say that I rarely hear albums where there are no drums used, but only accoustic guitars, mellotron, flute and vocals...bass is only used occasionally....so the somgs are rather soft...and more going on like a tidal waterstream that foinds its way through a gorge....but never clatters down like a waterfall.....but keeps on streaming.....suddle.

The music is sensitive and touching...dreamy and extremely atmospheric....and although songs are long (and many have commented on the somewhat jazzy edge from time to time I must say that I din't have that feeling....I rather keep on thinking the incluences are rather classical....especially the constant way of using the more senstive keys....the higher keys instead of the lower ones, certainly contrubutes to that. This is certainly no band for the bombastic Prog lovers as ELP or Yes, but more an album for the dreamers amongst us...an album that often reminds me of the soft side of Genesis and the suddlety that only Hackett can give to a accoustic guitar....The Mellotron gets never agressive as so many prog songs become....its not like In The Court Of The Crimson King, but more used as suddle background to support the other instruments as lets say The Sailor's tale...or Aisle Of Plenty...

Perhaps thats ultimatly what makes this album so beautifull.. instruments are all holding back and only show their soft side...all supporting each other but in the end create a really beautiffull harmonic melody....

It will be diffucult to hear something like this....somewhere else....

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Send comments to Daniel1974nl (BETA) | Report this review (#200660)
Posted Monday, January 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
Gooner
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars It escapes me why this album is rated so high. There's really only 2 tracks worth listening to here. The 10 minute _Depuis L'Automne_ with its wonderful mellotron and fine acoustic guitar. On par with anything on Celeste's Principe Di Giorno album. _En Pleine Face_ is a good acoustic progfolk number, but that's about it. This album is worth the price alone for the sprawling _Histoires Sans Paroles_. This track is indeed a 5 star rating. A classic with the greats in the prog.rock world for long symphonic pieces. A mellotron lover's delight, this one. Entirely instrumental.

The opening 2 tracks _Vert_ and _Dixie_ are horrendous. Skip right to track 3, relax and enjoy. A 3.5 star rating, really. That's all I can muster up. The first 2 tracks get a 0. :-( Don't expect any tight interplay on this album. This album is practically void of any percussion/drums.

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Send comments to Gooner (BETA) | Report this review (#201913)
Posted Friday, February 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This has to be one best discoveries I've made on this website so far. I was clicking around through the top 100 looking for new music. Something I hadn't really heard before that would open up whole new worlds of musical possibilities. And oh boy did this album deliver. There are no drums on this album which I know could be a set back for some, but what it lacks in percussion it makes for ten fold with some of the most marvelous compositions I've ever heard. The first song, Vert, has some interesting moments that introduce the style of music you are about to experience perfectly. It's actually my least favorite track on the album but still excellent in it's own way. After that we move onto Dixie, which is a whimsical folk song, great for car rides on a beautiful day or just relaxing at home with the windows open, a cool breeze, and tall glass of ice cold water. After that things start getting a little bit darker but the transition isn't too sudden as to cause discomfort to the listener. From here it gets hard to describe with words the emotional experience one goes on... I'll just say I came out the other side feeling refreshed and inspired. Enjoy.

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Send comments to cmbs (BETA) | Report this review (#204292)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison is the second album by Canadian, Quebec based progressive rock act Harmonium. The core of the band which recorded the debut album Harmonium (1974) consisting of Lead vocalist and guitarist Serge Fiori, Guitarist/ vocalist Michel Normandeau and bassist/ vocalist Louis Valois is still intact on Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison. There are two new faces in the lineup on this album and they have a great effect on the music. Pierre Daigneault on flute, piccolo, Soprano saxophone and clarinet and Serge Locat on piano, mellotron and synthesizer.

While the music on the debut was basically sophisticated light jazzy and folky pop songs the band adds a symphonic element to their sound on Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison which gives the music a whole new dimension. I was very impressed by the debut album but this album takes Harmonium´s music through the roof IMO. It´s of some notice that the album features almost no drums. The lack of drums really gives the album a very special and original sound. The addition of piano, mellotron, synth, flute, piccolo, clarinet and saxophone also gives the music on this album a very warm and pleasant feel. Serge Fiori´s vocal style is very pleasant and smooth. A very emotional and strong vocalist. Harmonium´s trademark 12-string acoustic guitars and melodic bass playing are also very present on this album.

The band is French speaking and the lyrics are in the French langauge. It´s probably a problem for some but I actually enjoy this feature in the music. There are only five songs on the album but it has a playing time that says 41:28 minutes and a couple of pretty long songs. The album starts with the beautiful Vert and after that the song Dixie which as the title suggests features some happy jazzy notes. It´s not jazz though as Harmonium really understand how to mix genres in a sophisticated and clever way. Depuis L'Automne is a 10:25 minute long track which is very symphonic. Here we get to enjoy the new addition of mellotron and piano for real. What a great song that one. En Pleine Face is a ballad type song. Very mellow and beautiful. The 17:12 minute long ending song Histoires Sans Paroles is quite an epic and symphonic track. It´s mostly instrumental ( except for some choirs) and features lots of synth, piano and mellotron in addition to Harmonium´s trademark 12-string acoustic guitars and melodic bass playing. A real treat for symphonic prog fans.

The musicianship on the album is outstanding. The way the two guitars compliment each other reminds me very much of Genesis mellow acoustic guitar parts. The vocals are arranged in great fashion with lots of beautiful harmony vocals to support the lead vocal. The addition of all the new instruments in the music is also a real treat and gives Harmonium so many new possibilities that they fully exploit.

The production is wonderful. Warm and pleasant but at the same time very clean. Everything sounds right in the mix. Be prepared to listen to something soft and beautiful.

Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison deserves all the praise it gets. It even proves to be better than the excellent debut album by Harmonium IMO. A deserved 5 star rating from me for a highly recommendable and original album. There are leaders and followers in every genre of music and Harmonium should definitely be regarded as one of the leaders of symphonic prog regardless of their rather limited discography.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#210845)
Posted Thursday, April 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Warning - There Be (Spectacular) Hippy Music Here

Harmonium's Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison ("If We Needed a Fifth Season") extremely high marks on the PA charts have raised some eyebrows over time. Certainly, the album is much more a folk album than a rock album, and its flowery hippy music vibe is just not going to appeal to all tastes. One could argue that if this album were in the Prog Folk category, people would understand it in context a bit better. That is, this album has more in common with Strawbs, Pentangle, or some RPI music than Yes or King Crimson. (There are some occasional similarities to Genesis.) The band started as a French Folk trio, and the dominant instrument is the acoustic guitar. The vocals are gentle and melodic in a very accessible way. It is not surprising that fans coming from a heavier (even Tull) background are not going to appreciate what a colossal achievement this album is.

I've personally spent more time playing late 60's, early 70's folk influenced hippy music than probably any other genre, and I can say that this album is one of the most musically lush and fully developed pieces out there. What's more, the recording and production are among the best ever created in the genre. The mix is overwhelmingly full on headphones, yet perfectly balanced. The stereo field is used to great effect, each instrument having a place in a soundscape that one can simply fall into. The guitar sounds are shimmery with just the right echo, not unlike Jimmy Page's on "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You." In fact, the soloing on "Depuis L'Automne" is quite reminiscent of the Led Zep track during the center section. But where Zeppelin kept the texture fairly even with a repeated heavy break, Harmonium uses a more composed, evolving style on this semi-epic that ends in an almost sing-along chorus with a soaring melody.

While this album is unmistakably beautiful (it's perhaps the only prog album my wife actually enjoys) the band's use of texture and occasional dissonance are far from easy-to-digest campfire fare. The instrumental sections are composed pieces utilizing several instruments with interweaving lines, never mindless noodling. There are a few jazz-tinged solos but the level of taste and build make me think these are only semi-improvised. The wind instruments (sax and flute) and keys are, again, composed pieces of a whole, never showcases for the player.

The album itself has a definite sense of pacing, as it is a concept album of 5 seasons (Spring through winter, and a fifth imagined season). The first song invites the listener in, presenting a bright folk song with added texture than is the folk-rock norm, but not yet demanding a lot in return. The second tune is a New Orleans jazz inspired number intended to represent the playfulness of summer. In that intention it succeeds perfectly. It is great fun, an enjoyable listen. It is also the least memorable track in the end. The aforementioned track for autumn is perhaps my favorite, the first extended piece that really covers a wide degree of emotional territory. Winter starts with a dissonant keyboard before opening into a sad, plaintive song with dramatic dynamics.

The climax is the extended "Histories Sans Paroles," "Stories without Words." The 17-minute epic builds layer upon layer to produce a pastoral soundscape reminiscent of Genesis, Anglagard, or even some Opeth. By far the most classically progressive song on the album, it relies on mellotron, flute, complex piano lines, selective dissonance, quirky layering, and effective dynamics to create a masterpiece that should delight the prog fan of virtually any background. This is the payoff and what a payoff it is. The only vocal enters at around 8:00, a new female voice without lyrics that is used as yet another layer rather than a lead instrument. The melodic figures evolve and bounce among instruments, the mix thickens and becomes sparse, flowing in waves of emotion. It would not be unreasonable to use this track to explain to a newcomer what prog was all about.

It takes quite a few listens to actually appreciate the compositional excellence, both within each song, and between songs as they evolve the concept album as a whole. The fact that an album that is essentially without lyrics for non-French speakers like myself still functions so well as a concept album is a testament to its genius. Unlike superficially difficult music that announces from the first note that it's going to take some work to finally "get it" (hello CTTE) this album is so beautiful that it is easy to not put the same kind of effort one puts into, say, Larks Tongues in Aspic. This would be a shame, for this album has at least as much going on musically as that classically challenging masterpiece.

So the common question of "why the high ratings?" I think has two answers. Either a listener simply does not have a taste for folky-hippy music, or they've been lulled into not digging deeply into the album. Despite already having listened to this album many times, the extra more critical spins for this review have actually increased my appreciation of the album rather than burning me out. It deserves its place in the upper reaches of the PA charts. Enjoy this album which I'm glad my fellows chose for my 100th review.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#225862)
Posted Friday, July 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive Folk rock, the words are very folk and ready sometimes for the dreams, sometimes for the naivety. It is necessary underlined highly-rated original of the album, Louis Valois's bass is tres important here as well as Mellotron de Serge Locat. The concept of four seasons is advanced here grace in Serge Fiori's talent, main person in charge of texts and music. Arpeggios are very delicate, highly-rated melancholic of the music is present. This album ets ttres soft sometimes a little jazzy, sometimes song, sometimes progressive. Certain passage are a true success. The album had a big tres succes in its country and also all over the world. A kind of small reference world of the Progressive Folk song.

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Send comments to Discographia (BETA) | Report this review (#227682)
Posted Monday, July 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must confess that I hadn't even heard of Harmonium before last week. I happened to notice them when I browsed the top 100 album list here and the album at hand was ranked quite high. I read some reviews, and was convinced enough to get the album. So here's my (shortish) review.

Harmonium were a prog folk band hailing from the Quebec area, and they sang in French. They did only three albums in the middle 70s, Les Cinq Saisons (as this album is often shortened) being their second and made in 1975. It is a theme album, the theme being the four seasons, plus a fifth one. Every song on the album represents one of the seasons, with the fifth song Histoires Sans Paroles being the fifth season and the epic song of the album (17 minutes).

The music found on this album is very mellow, they have no drummer and only occasional percussions can be heard here and there. The key elements to their music are acoustic guitars, fantastic sax, flute and clarinet melodies, and on the top of it all, great grandiose mellotron sweeps followed by Ondes Martenot quite a many times. The vocals sound very sincere and heartfelt and seem to convey the emotions of the songs very well even though I can't understand French at all.

I must say that at the first listen the album did not convince me and I was thinking what the fuss was all about. Then, after listening to it several times in a row it started to grow on me fast. Now I hunger for more. The beauty found on this album is something quite unique. Very like a hippie dream, and the cover art reflects this perfectly. The impeccable instrumentation and the flawless arrangements along with very beautiful melodies make this album a must get to all who like prog folk.

My verdict: Full five stars without a hesitation.

P.S. This was actually my first review here, says something how this album affected me that I started with this.

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Send comments to nikow (BETA) | Report this review (#229709)
Posted Monday, August 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I bought this album based on the high ranking and tremendous reviews it has received on this site. After about two listens, I am completely hooked.

The music on this album is extremely melodic and well-written. I found myself being consumed by the melodies and overall song structures. Even though I don't speak a wink of french, I also enjoy the singing that comes with the package.

All five of the songs are great, but I just can't get enough of the final track, Histoires Sans Paroles. Almost entirely instrumental (minus a few hums in the middle section), this song connected with me on an emotional level. The melodies are very catchy, and the songs length does not detract from the songs flow.

Fans of progressive music in general should definitely check this album out, and those that are into Camel and/or Fairport Convention should not even hesitate. As a new fan of Harmonium, I cannot wait to acquire their other albums.

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Send comments to MusicMan3172 (BETA) | Report this review (#236107)
Posted Monday, August 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's a pity that I only knew this seventies prog band in recent years. Thanks to internet and progarchives that have made me aware about this gem of seventies. The first time I listened to this album couple of months ago I felt like I had a total peace of mind right from the start to the end of the album. It's really an excellent and peaceful experience combined with amazement on why I had only known it recently! The music of Harmonium relies itself on the folk-style combined with mellotron, piccolo and flute. Even though at that time all first row prog bands like Genesis, ELP, Yes, Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, King Crimson already matured with their albums, this album by Harmonium offered different spectrum of music style.

"Vert" (5:34) injects beautiful sounds of double flutes in wonderful notes into my mind and made me experiencing something in my mind and body?so peaceful! The acoustic guitar starts to enter the music followed nicely with vocal line with catchy melody. The vocal is actually comprising duo vocals like the sounds of a choir. The key rhythm section of the song is acoustic guitar filled up with keyboards plus bass guitar as beat keeper. No drums work here. The interlude part with dynamic basslines and clarinet / sax solo is wonderful. At the end of the interlude, the duo vocal enters in jazzy style without lyrics 'di di di du du dada?' combined with great acoustic guitar fills and eerie flute work. Beautiful!

'Dixie' (3:26) opens up with an acoustic guitar that reminds me to The Beatles 'Black Bird'. As the title implies, the song flows in dynamic tempo using piano and guitar as energizer of the rhythm section. The clarinet solo in the interlude combined with acoustic guitar solo are really excellent. The combined sounds of acoustic guitar and piano form a solid Dixie style. The song also features stunning piano solo. Wow!

'Depuis L'Automne' (10:25) starts ambient with synthesizer sound effects followed with accentuated vocal work accompanied by acoustic guitar. The tempo moves up gradually through the vocal line followed beautifully with catchy piano work combined later with mellotron sound. The intro part creates great atmosphere that sets the overall tone of the song. The interlude part with mellotron as background while the acoustic guitar solo works on top of it is really nice, especially the clarinet provides the fills at background. It sounds like folk music meets symphonic prog. The song ends up with happy ending mood looking at the way the vocals sing.

'En Pleine Face' (4:51) starts off with an ambient mood with soft acoustic guitar rhythm section that accompanies vocal. At the end of the first verse there is a sound of accordion that follows. The key of this song is the choirs and long sustain accordion work that serves at main rhythm section.

A music for Self-Reflection ?

The epic 'Histoires Sans Paroles' (17:12) is well positioned as a concluding track for the album. At first listen this song sounds like moving very slowly. But when you listen to it midnight while your light turns off you will find the beauty and subtleties of the music excellently. The opening flute work that moves slowly, backed with acoustic guitar fills and long sustain mellotron work create great harmony. At approx 2:55 the style changes into mellotron sounds and later combined beautifully with soft piano touch and acoustic guitar. It's really a nice piece of the music. The movement of each piece of the music from one to another is a nice experience listening to this album. Flute and piccolo also provide their work. If you love mellotron-drenched music for meditation, maybe?, this is perfect for you. I think this kind of music is suitable for accompanying you in self reflection, especially on the part at minute 11:00 where the sound of the beach is combined with flute, piano, and clarinet. It's a great sound, really.

Overall, actually I am not inclined to give high rating for an album that does not sound quite complex like Genesis or Yes. But, having a second thought, the album creates wonderful nuances and beautiful melodies that produce great music, I think this is an excellent addition to any progressive music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#237022)
Posted Thursday, September 03, 2009 | Review Permalink
Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Someone once said that music has the power to make you long for yesterdays you've never known. For those of you who weren't around in 1975, this wonderful album is a good case in point: it speaks volumes about the musical mood in French Canada back then. Way before cynicism had set in, when people still dared to dream, just about every young Québécois knew of HARMONIUM, had been to their gigs or was seen carrying one of their albums under his arm. In fact, in 1976, a local artist by the name of Sylvain Lelièvre had popularized a song called "Marie-Hélène" in which he describes a girl who whiles away time "wearing out her Genesis and her Cinquième saison" (my own translation). That line always brings a smile to my face...

A product of its time, La Cinquième saison, bolstered by Serge Fiori's exquisite vocals, exhudes a peacefulness, a mood of tranquil surrender that pervaded in the 70s and had all but disappeared by the end of the decade. In retrospect, one would say there is an innocence, almost a naiveté to the album that endears you to it; its melodies are simple and the rendition is so totally devoid of posturing. But it is precisely this genuinenes combined with the excellent songwriting, flawless musicianship and fine production that make the album timeless.

If you expect to get hit over the head with your prog, no doubt you'll be disappointed with La Cinquième saison. But if you are willing to sit back and let the music wash over you, you will find it hard not to be moved by its grace and beauty. From beginning to end, the album is chock-full of achingly beautiful passages that stay with you long after the music has died. A classic.

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Send comments to Hibou (BETA) | Report this review (#237205)
Posted Friday, September 04, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Had the King asked the best mistrels of his kingdom to create a musical work of art that would be worthy of his court and his glory, this might have been the end result. 'Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison' is, indeed, majestic.

To those who still doubt the high ratings given to this jewel, it is never too late to challenge your preconceptions. The odds are that 'Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison' will take hold of you after one, perhaps two listens. It will bring you joy and tears, and awe. All five tracks are excellent, whereas the last one, the entirely instrumental 'Histoires Sans Paroles' (Stories without words) is heavenly.

There is no need to discuss the creativeness, the complexity, the musicians' proficiency or the flawless compositions when such unique beauty makes its case in and of itself. Of course, if your cake looks more like extreme metal, this might not be an album for you; 'Si on avait besoin d'une cinquieme saison' is the high point of melodic folk prog, and aims for the heart first.

As a person who, more often than not, finds himself at odds with the general sentiment, herein my independent judgment gets me to concur. This is a masterpiece.

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Send comments to SentimentalMercenary (BETA) | Report this review (#237836)
Posted Sunday, September 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well I have listen this album several times. It is nice, it looks like songs for little babies. I would not be sure if this album deserve to be qualify as prog rock. I think it has nice songs, but they do not go beyond that. The flute sounds very nice, the fact that they do not use drums is unusual and interesting, but many people would say that it is just one more album. I think I have to reinterprate what I think a masterpiece is for me if I want to say that this is a masterpiece. Therefore, I give one star. I would like to know what people would say if they would not know that this album is so overrated. One star of course. Now after several years I have changed my mind and I give three stars.

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Send comments to amontes (BETA) | Report this review (#239785)
Posted Thursday, September 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Einsetumadur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 10/15P.: a very good album with huge Mellotronic input, but with too unconsistent a sound to be regarded as a masterpiece. There are three shorter folk/jazz pop tunes and two huge progressive epics, and the harmony between these two types of music isn't too continuous

Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison is one of the forgotten gems of progressive folk and I would surely not have found this album if it hadn't been presented in the top 10 of the Progarchives. Everyone who knows the French language a bit can understand what the general concept of this album is: the musical performance of the four seasons, plus the portrayal of an imaginary fifth season, an epic which takes the most of the total running time and is evidently the center piece of the record. Overall, the music is kept acoustically: besides the omnipresent steel string acoustic guitar and the French vocals we get to hear several wind instruments (flutes, clarinets, saxophones etc.), a plucking bass guitar, some nice tape fooling-arounds, occasional electric and acoustic pianos and - which makes the LP especially interesting for me - the Mellotron. In the short pieces (Spring, Summer and Winter) we do not get to hear it at all, but the two main pieces (Autumn and the fifth season) are nearly brimmed with Mellotron strings. I deliberately didn't mention the drums until here, and this is because there aren't any to be heard here at all, except for some rare percussion. Perhaps you know Principe di un Giorno by the Italian group Celeste: both albums are quite similar in mood and composition, and if you like one of them you will like the other one as well.

The first piece, Vert (Green) - a collaboration of band leader Fiori and guitarist Normandeau - represents the spring and is a dreamy and mellow opener starting off with a leaping flute until the acoustic guitar and the bass guitar enter. Already at this place we can hear that the French-Canadian band is clearly influenced by the French chanson music although the jazzy electric piano which later consorts with the other instruments is somehow more reminiscent of the Canterbury scene, somehow like a mix of Hatfield&The North, Simon & Garfunkel and Genesis in French. Serge Fiori's vocals which have some superb solos in this song are always great and perfectly blend in with the music; in this song this groovy flow of the vocals and vocalizations, like the acrobatic improvisations around the text, is just awesome and creates a positive and happy mood. The second half of the song consists of a jam of the soprano saxophone, flute, the acoustic guitar and the vocals - never without the tape echo effects - on a cool funky and folksy riff.

Dixie, the summer song, is the finger-picking exercise on this record. After some short vocal verses the piece, easily the fastest one of the five seasons, becomes a good-mood-jam with some swift acoustic guitar and zither harp playing (superb backing and solo!), virtuosic piano and clarinet improvisations, one of the finest spoons which I have ever heard and even a short piece of Slavic sounding folklore in the very end.

Depuis L'Automne (Since The Autumn) is the song which touched me most on this LP and is actually a thoroughbred prog folk piece. The beginning, after some somber and creepy synthesizer sounds, attracts as little 'progressive' attention as the other two pieces, starting off gently with an intricate, picking acoustic guitar and Fiori's vocals. But already the second verse is somehow hectic, and who knows about the band's 'sovereignistic' attitude ("We wanted to sing in the street, not to be as lost anymore, pity that this is the street that we have lost") will also know that this is not going to be a singalong song: a strained piano prelude discharges into a celestial mellotron bridge with superb harmony vocals, one of those very short moments - just like parts of Genesis' Trespass - which can transport and express plenty of different feelings problemlessly. The next stanza is acoustic again, but more rhythmical and with a loping bass accompaniment while the next one contains dense, Anthony Phillips-like multitracked guitars and beautiful piano arpeggios. Afterwards the mellotron resumes full power, the restrained bass guitar keeps the rhythm (a very clever idea which saves the piece from disappearing in mist) and an echoed acoustic guitar and a superb soprano saxophone swirl around: classy and entrancing King Crimson feeling without sounding like a rip-off. A reprise of the mellotron bridge leads us to the last part, at first in a slowly crescending instrumental part where an exciting bass/electric piano-riff (does anybody remember Circles by Manfred Mann's Earth Band?) and textless vocals turn around some simple acoustic guitar strumming. The restless coda consists of angry questioning (the same question which in the originaly poem was situated right in the middle of it) where I consider the vocals - or the harmony between the lead and the backing voice - as very exciting.

After this masterpiece the listener gets a short rest with the winter piece of this record, En Pleine Face (On the plain face), for me the most beautiful one of the three shorter pieces on this LP. At first we hear the same melody that was also to be heard before Depuis L'automne, albeit in the higher and faster originally-sped version, played by Marie Bernard on the historic synthesizer instrument Ondes Martenot which is similar to the more popular Theremin and creates a floating tone. This instrument is present in the whole piece and again is the important 'spice' which makes the very good ballad become especially compelling. The chanson can be divided into two parts, the first being a beautiful guitar-vocals part which shows Fiori's undeniable talents as a poet and songwriter ("Another turned page, what a shame for this day. Melt away the ice, or better go away, for it's me who has fallen flat on his plain face"). The winter correlation is self-evident, and the discreet accordeon backing as well as the icy synthesizer wavering do the rest to create this chilly and cold mood. The stomping second part, with a very French-sounding accordeon solo, leaves the singer asking wistfully "Where are you, I don't hear hear you anymore, where are you?" on to the fade-out. Quite a nice ending!

Actually the year would be over now, but si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison, i.e., if we needed a fifth season, and - at least on this record - we do, the big opus follows.

Histoires Sans Paroles (Stories without words), la plâte de résistance of this record. This one may have the biggest prog relation of all, an instrumental epic which is Mellotron-drenched all over. The storyline seems to deal with the isolation and reunion of a couple and a grand prom afterwards; quite interesting to express this merely instrumentally.

Again, the beginning ("L'Isolement (Isolation)) remains charming and beautiful with sea sounds, acoustic guitar and a fine arrangement for two flutes. Then secretly the mellotron and a sparkling piano appear in the background, but after two and a half minutes the mellotron starts to lead the whole piece in majestic windrows, pulverizing into a flaky, more driving and accelerating part (L'appel (The Plea)) with piano arpeggios and well-divided acoustic guitar arrangements which somehow always reminds me of the "Fortuna" part of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. But when the dissonant zither and flute lines enter at 5:04, the opus completely drifts into surreality and takes the listener into a symphonic and slightly psychedelic dream-scape, again with the mellotron as the lead stallion which leaves all the other instruments behind at 6:53. Not later than at this place the Mellotron fanatics will surely float on cloud nine, but again the group doesn't sink down in kitsch, but goes on to a short vocal part (La Rencontre (The Meeting)) featuring Judy Richard who does some beautiful vocalizations to a romantic piano backing. The mellotron and a low-register-recorder enter again and Mme Richard heightens her voice more and more - a very fine moment of this piece. At 10 minutes 30 the band prepares the last part of the piece, a fast, swinging 3/4-waltz (L'union (The Union)) which begins with some very fine, dissonant and mellow Robert Fripp-like guitars while the sea sounds of the beginning add more texture. In general this piece reminds me of King Crimson's Lizard quite a lot. Gradually, the acoustic guitar which virtually sounds like a harpsichord at this place, the flute, the piano and the saxophone come in and dance around this rhythm while especially the improvisations of the soprano saxophone are incredible and not short of those which Mel Collins did for King Crimson.

The big finale starts at 14:40 where Le grand Bal (The Big Prom) begins: just like in "Lizard" the piece ends with carnival-esque music, although here it isn't as strange - at least the band stops at the place where the Mellotron accompaniment starts to become quite surreal. After some new themes the leitmotif from the very beginning, played by two flutes, is also reprised in this 3/4-measure until the end.

Overall this album is a very fine one which I really like listening to. Yet, I wouldn't call it a masterpiece. The band achieves a celestial standard with Depuis L'Automne which the other pieces cannot really maintain. Especially Histoires sans Paroles is, though being quite nice, a bit too 'loose': the autumn track (Depuis L'Automne) touches me more - probably because it combines the infatuating soundscapes with the poetic chanson beauty. Perhaps I also didn't listen to the "Histoires" as frequently as I actually ought to. Anyway, at this moment this is a really good three star rating overall; this album is a fine addition to listeners of acoustic symphonic prog (Celeste, Anthony Phillips, King Crimson). Mellotron lovers will of course love this record, and as well the others - if they do not necessarily need the "rock" in "prog" - will be satisfied. Compared to Celeste's "Principe di un Giorno" the shorter tracks on this album are closer to pop music. The problem isn't that these pieces are worse or more boring, but there are simply two different types of songs - i.e., epics and 'chansons' - which can be found on this album. In my opinion, this record is simply hyped too much: it's a good addition to any progressive record collection, but not the real masterpiece. But listen to "Depuis l'Automne" and decide for yourself if this is what you like.

A hint from my side: also look for this album at Amazon or somewhere else under the name "Les Cinq Saisons", it may be a bargain - at the moment (2009) the price is about $11. It is completely the same album, but the missing of a band and album title resulted in some naming problems so that there is more than one title for this record.

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Send comments to Einsetumadur (BETA) | Report this review (#243065)
Posted Monday, October 05, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars Proof of French/Canadian beauty at its best. This nice little symphonic folk album offers something, where I consider this language to be in best way. Well, I don't like it much, but here, it's softened by nostalgic compositions and isn't so bad. No offense, I just see it like that and it means a lot for me, to get through. And these days, you can hear French language only in heavier music, which is sad.

Because this and flutes combined together, well, it rocks. OK, progcks. It has all signs of prog symph folk for me, strong bass line, piano (sometimes), not so wild vocals, but mostly - acoustic guitar. There are other instruments, but they're not so prominent.

Oh, when considering to buy this or not, I suggests: "You don't have it yet ?". Really, this is one of the masterpieces that are without flaws. Go for it.

5(+), every part of it is interesting (I suppose)

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#249421)
Posted Monday, November 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I should have started with their debut album. But I have been listening to this album on and off for a year so I am excused.

It is said that Antonio Vivaldi's socalled masterpiece The Four Seasons is a very beautiful piece of music. It has influenced the rock and pop world and spawned some copies. I am not sure if Harmonium has copied The Four Seasons. In any case; Harmonium has added one xtra season. The fifth season is also the longest one here, clocking in at over seventeen minutes. I am not sure about the lyrics here, French not being my strongest side. But I am sure the lyrics is as beautiful as the music.

The music is a blend of folk rock, fusion jazz and symphonic prog. The use of instruments are on the minimalist side. The instruments are understated rather than bombastic. The vocals plays an important role. The jazz pieces here are truly stunning. The second song Dixie has a dixieland theme. That is the most lively, bouncy song on this album. The rest of the album follows a very understated pattern, based on silent contemplation rather than preaching (overstated keyboards). That makes this music fascinating, but not easy to break down. My only gripe is that this album lacks the dot over the i. In other words; a killer track which gives the album a real identity. But on the other hand, I doubt you will find any better marriage of folk rock and symphonic prog on this planet.

I am tempted to give five points. But I have a policy not to give any more five pointers. Oh, what the heck. This is a truly excellent and essential album everyone should have in their collection. Everyone. The artwork also being a good reason for that. Nevermind the pop up which will now greet me with the warning from the PA staff. Yes, I do understand the rules. This album is Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music. It is also a sure candidate for the top ten of all albums.

5 stars (deserved)

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#250345)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Aspic (BETA) | Report this review (#250410)
Posted Friday, November 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I got interested in this album reading the huge position it had, but i really got disappointed of Harmonium. It surely "Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison" is not a prog masterpiece, in the same Quebec area there are much better work as Pollen and Sloche The songs are well composed and you don't feel the missing of drums but the album is sound to sweet and cute, that became sometimes little bit nauseating, starting from the cover so full of bunny flower and other cute stuff. I don't like to give vote just for compenstating so i give 3 stars, that is the right valutation for me.

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Send comments to bungle77 (BETA) | Report this review (#252790)
Posted Thursday, November 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my first review here at ProgArchives but I'm not quite sure why?I think I didn't feel educated enough in terms of knowledge of Progressive because in order to know about something you have to live with that something. By now, with a few dozens of posts and almost 10 years of experience listening prog, I think I can write some reviews of my fave albums and this Harmonium one is definitely amongst them. With all due respect, a less than five star rating for this album is impossible. When listening to it, you realized that that album is beyond genres, subgenres or classifications of any kind; the fine music and emotional lyrics are absolutely beautiful. Serge Fiori and Co. manage to provide one of the most brilliant interpretations of music?you don't even notice the absence of drums! Like many reviewers did, I listened to this album because of its high place in the ProgArchives all-time chart and I really have to say that that place (really close to prog monsters like King Crimson, Yes and Genesis) is fully deserved. All five songs flow both individual and as a whole: "Vert", beautiful crescendo, a few bass notes and the amazing voice of Serge Fiori singing in a delicate and exquisite French?here I have to say I don`t speak French (hardly English ☺ because Spanish is my native tongue) but I have the lyrics, my pronunciation has improved and I hope the lyrics being as beautiful as they sound with the music! (resources for translations needed?). "Dixie"?what to say about it?something tells me that if that song would have been played by Wakeman and Howe it would have been a major hit! That song is an amazing demonstration of music virtuosos and a delicious mixture of genres such as Folk, 50`s "Dixie"land groups, etc. "Depuis L'Automne" and "En Pleine Face" returns to the Vert vibe, beautiful delivery of guitar and vocals by Fiori and an extraordinaire finale of keyboards (pardon me but I really don't know what is the correct instrument). "Histoires Sans Paroles" closes this gem with 17 minutes of pure magic and recurrent chords that appears throughout the album. I don't know what else to say but the obvious cliché: TRULY MASTERPIECE. P.S. A month ago started listening to L'Heptade and so far?Amazing!

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Send comments to The Acolyte (BETA) | Report this review (#253278)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars The word "beautiful" has been used so much that it has lost it's meaning. Let me tell you, though, that if you want to hear something that will forever raise your standards of what beautiful music is, listen to Harmonium's SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIEME SAISON. I decided to check this album out that I had previously never heard of before when I saw it in the top 10 of the Top 100 Albums on ProgArchives. Like many of the Prog Classics, the album cover is breath-taking and memorable, so that also influenced my purchase. Upon the first listen, I was convinced that not only does this belong in the Prog Archives top 10, it has certainly made it's way into one of my personal favorites. The concept isn't too original: each of the four (or, in this case, five) tracks is based on a season, but never before will you hear it done as

The album opens up with "Vert." This track represents Spring, with the snow melting away and a new year beginning with the haunting wind instruments that open the track. The vocals then come in, as it becomes a whimsical, folksy song. The vocals are very dreamy, and the acoustics do a good job of creating a laid-back atmosphere. A saxophone and clarinet solo even add a little jazz to the mix, and close off this wonderful track.

The second track is "Dixie." This track represents Summer, and is a very peppy and carefree song. The piano is dominant here, and give the song an innocent feel to it. This song reminds me of days where I have nothing but free time, and it feels like a dream all day long. The track reaches it's peak when it goes on an instrumental excursion, with a charming saxophone only to enlighten the mood even more. This song is a joyous romp to listen to, and another essential track from this essential album.

The third track is "Despuis L'Automne." This track represents Fall, and actually begins quite chillingly. The vocals are very soft, if not always as cheerful as the previous two tracks. The mellotron adds a powerful and emotional background to this track, and the woodwind instruments that play over it are just as beautiful as ever. Later into the track, the vocals return, as well as synthesizer. The track ends much differently than it began, with hopeful and uplifting vocal harmonies. A great epic, and comparable to the majestic final track.

The fourth track is "En Pleine Face." This track represents Winter, and has a very delicate and homely feeling. It reminds me of warming up near a fireplace in a log cabin, safe from the snow outside. Of course, the harsh weather is still wondrous to look at through the window pane. This feeling is perfectly captured with the organic and folksy music, with some piano and ethereal textures to capture the sounds of an icy climate. Another excellent track.

The album ends with "Histoires Sans Paroles." This track represents the ambiguous fifth season, but if there is anything I know about this lost season from this track is one word: Heavenly. This is an epic track, 17-minutes long and instrumental. Simply put, this is one of the greatest songs I've ever heard. The track opens with the sounds of moving woodwinds and mellotron, and from that moment on you know you are taking the first steps to a grand journey. Throughout this epic track, the listener goes through many different emotions, from joyous to pensive to at one point, maybe even a little put-off. It ends magnificently, and leaves a lasting impression on the listener. This track is so glorious, it was one of the few Progressive Rock tracks that almost brought me to tears.

I'll say it again, SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIEME is one of the most beautiful sounds you can treat your ears to. This is a fantastic album, and if you want some life- affirming music, look no further than Harmonium's masterpiece. Your life will be better with it.

Five Stars- Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

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Send comments to UndercoverBoy (BETA) | Report this review (#253362)
Posted Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is an album of immediately likeable and strongly melodic prog. I especially enjoyed the actual songs (as opposed to the final, 17-minute instrumental track), which have folk-style vocals that remind me of the great Scottish singer John Martyn (who's also listed om Progarchives), only they're in a charming kind of French I was hitherto unfamiliar with. The compositions themselves are typical of early 1970s folk as well, with this major difference that you also get lots of "symphonic prog" elements creeping in, such as dreamy twelve-string guitar arpeggios and majestic mellotron orchestrations. But the 17-minute "Histoires sans paroles" was a major let-down. It contains no captivating melodies as such, the band merely let one mediocre riff flow into another, some of the riffs (e.g. the waltz towards the end) go on for far too long, and the solo playing (particularly the flute) sounds pedestrian.

I simply don't understand how this album could end up in our Top-Ten of best-loved Prog albums! Maybe things would have been different if I'd grown up with it, but as things stand I would never rank it as close behind SELLING ENGLAND or CLOSE TO THE EDGE as it tends to be. It also seems less accomplished and far less exciting than certain classic albums which now find themselves a great deal lower in our Top-100, such as the best of Robert Wyatt, Gentle Giant or Gong. To make things worse, its sleeve design must be ranked among the greatest kitsch to have come out of the 1970s.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#260195)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars At first audition, I was a bit disapointed, probably by the same characteristics noted by the ones who didn't like it. Apparently simple , easy-to-love-and-get-bored melodies... "Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison" is clearly a good album, for the beauty of its arrangements and the moving melodies that are so appealing at first audition and also part of complex folk compositions, with jazzy, spacy and symphonic touches. I really like the fresh and joyfull mood inspired by "Vert" and "Dixie", my favourites songs, with the 3d and 5th seasons. Ok, there is only one left ;-) -still a very nice folk song... It is really different than any other albumin my collection, with its unique mix of hyppie/folk and progressive music, but stil I think it lacks a bit of quality to get a 5 stars note.

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Send comments to JethroTree (BETA) | Report this review (#266891)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the group's second album, and it is its ... pinnacle ! All Quebec is very proud of this ambitious 1975 gem, including myself who is also from this native land (I'll go analysing the most objective that I can..., but since I played keyboard versions of all 5, it will be easy and concluding). Could be classified as "folk-progressive", but believe me, it is true prog ! A concept album about the 'standard' four seasons, from spring to winter, with the additional last track being the 5th season, an addition that lead to the title "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison", being something like "If we had need of a fifth season". And if you think there is no need for that extra season, just listen to this masterpiece ! You will order that fifth one to the Nature right away !

The five different compositions are beautifully assembled together around the four (five) season-theme, and you will find musically in them a logic and a progress.

The two longer tracks, the fifth and "Depuis l'automne" set the tone of the album : a flowing adventure of nice vocals, sensibilities, ambitious different musical styles and a very unique sound coming as a unit from the multiple instruments, a sound that you will not find elsewhere. Intricate super musicianship. Those two epics are in the form of a 'suite', with various sections well connected together in a beautiful way; there is plenty of mellotron, and the extraordinary characteristic is that when rhythmic parts hit you, you feel transported... until you realize that there are no drums or regular percussions ! It is awesome. A lot of spirit. Such rhythm in theses conditions. The guitar, piano and bass do it all !

The first and fourth tracks (about Spring and Winter) are also beautiful, with themes that have become popular in Quebec, melodies that hook you and featuring Fiori's guitar play. Very strong compositions indeed. Even "Dixie", the more poppish, short song evoking Summer, emerges as a fun game, relax, and is finally interesting (if you put aside your prog-mind). Lots of energy and youth.

As many reported, the track "Histoires sans Paroles" is worth alone the buying of the CD ! Super true ! It has all the prog features : odd-time signatures, complexity, beautiful melodic schemes, extended instrumentals, impros and atmosphere, a "general feeling" unequalled, gorgeous musical sections, such as the first theme in 4/4, rediscovered at the end in 3/4, separated in the middle with a very sensitive melodic air (with Judy's voice). Just one advice when listening : do not interrupt, once started !

From songs #1 to #5 : a very solid 5.0 stars ! Not even 4.8 rounded ! A 'must' in your collection !

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Send comments to Progdaybay (BETA) | Report this review (#272363)
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars As much as I would like to, I know there has already been a lot said about this album. Without getting too detailed, I will just leave you with the following knowledge:

"BUY THIS ALBUM OR YOU HAVE NO TASTE."

Seriously. This is easily one of the finest pieces of music Ive ever heard in my life. It's the most minimalistic prog rock album out there and easily surpasses some of the most complicated. How does one accomplish such a feat? With the leadership of the open minded and lyrically talented Serge Fiori. Unlike a few people here, I actually am fluent in French and can understand every word and every nuance to the fullest. Which, in the long run, really makes me love this album even more. It's 41 minutes of orchestrated brilliance. It's 41 minutes of warm fuzzy nostalgia. the songs still send shivers down my spine to this day.

It takes a special kind of album, that when you listen to it, you think. And wonder. Et pense. This is not for the ELP, Floyd and DT humping prog fan. This is for the fans of music that actually progresses. In sound, not genre. 5 stars.

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Send comments to Treasure (BETA) | Report this review (#273813)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permalink
lor68
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars An obscured French-Canadian band from the middle-seventies, whose pastoral side (actually They were born as a light folk prog band) was always evident and all along their short career...a few hints of bluegrass seem to make a strange mix here, but you can also listen to a typical light progressive rock, with some improvisational breaks-through (almost within a kind of jazz-genre) as well as to an intelligent folk prog...Ok They could be the "alternative" Canadian version of Gryphon, sometimes reminding me of another Italian light prog band of the seventies, called Celeste; but honestly it seems They were quite personal in their music tastes anyway, as They created a style of their own, which can be "labelled" in a difficult manner...Serge Fiori was the mastermind of the ensemble (playing a lot of acoustic instruments and creating also some intelligent lyrics...); but you can't forget the soprano saxophone, the clarinet and the bass clarinet, always played by Pierre Daigneault, with the support of some other interesting musicians, whose target was not the virtuosic music, but rather the goal in painting a picture with beautiful and ligth colours, not so far away from the U.K. scene of Canterbury... well actually I think above all of the quieter moments within the music of A. Phillips, but also of those ones inside the music of Renaissance and PFM, usually settled into the progressive rock scene; but the musicians were able to maintain a music imprinting of their own, from the beginning to the end! Even though the length of the album was various (from the short song of 3 minutes and beyond, to the last 17-minutes suite, an epic number entitled "Histoires sans Paroles") and considering that the album was not characterized certainly by the delicate sound of thunder (think of the diverse style within "Running Hard" by Renaissance for instance), in any case the perfect Soft Romantic scene (a sort of clean environment, where the birds and the delicate petties only- can live together in harmony!!) was created by means of sweet and sometimes haunted melodies, with a great emotion and the typical sound of Mellotron too!!

At the end- for the majority- it's an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection; instead for whom is more into the virtuosic aspect of prog music, probably the evaluation is "one star less"...but these latter fans either prefer new ELP clones for example or for sure think of Gentle Giant and Yes (do you remember the music of Myrthrandir for example, which was regarded as the best example of derivative music? Or again the modern Echolyn inside "Suffocating the Bloom" and After Crying from Hungary?...well forget the best complex music for a moment and relax with Harmonium!! )

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Send comments to lor68 (BETA) | Report this review (#278005)
Posted Thursday, April 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison" is an album of timeless beauty.

It's rare to find music this beautiful. I couldn't believe my ears. A timeless masterpiece, one of the best progressive rock albums of 1975. So obscure to the great audience, it's just a shame that this band didn't get as much attention as other prog bands.

the style is very peculiar: played mainly with acoustic guitar, flute, and at times mellotron, but there is no form of drumming or even of percussion at all. Let's not forget the great voice of the singer and the choir that accompanies it some times. "Si on Avait..." is a delicate, beautiful masterpiece, the hymn to nature, spring, and joy (even though sometimes it get's kind of creepy, with the use of he threatening sounding mellotron, imposing with great style and in a very fascinating way.

The first songs four songs are so beautiful, so delicate, fun to listen to, with a nice baroque style in many points. There is also a unique intensity that characterizes the songs, I still can't believe it.

the last song is something different. Beautiful in it's own way, the seventeen minute "Histories Sans Paroles" an instrumental track that with it's always changing moods and atmospheres gives us emotions that still remain after thirty five years.

To sum up, a masterpiece that rarely a band is able to create, a piece of music that everybody should listen to, not only prog fans.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#282558)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
2 stars PA has introduced me to an extensive list of artists that normally remain obscured by the mainstream Prog bands. But of course you can't expect to win them all, and Harmonium certainly hasn't been a revelations for me. I could understand an occasional 5star but their broad and fervent support is hard to grasp. For a top 20 album in the hit list, I had at least expected to hear Prog, and not a collection of easy-listening French folk songs, it's almost vaudeville at times. But apart from genre issues, also the acclaimed masterpiece-ness remains something of a mystery.

The first two tracks are acoustic 'chanson' pop, nothing more. Not bad but too sweet and tame. Somehow I would describe this as Nick Drake in a confusingly happy mood, doing some French tunes to greet an unexpected sunny day. Depuis L'Otomne adds some extended mellotron parts where the interplay with the acoustic guitars offers a first glimpse why this album is appreciated by proggers. En Pleine Face returns to pastoral hippy pop of the opening songs and sounds as old and woolly as a worn blanket.

Skip forward to the Histoires sans Paroles, an extended and dynamic piece that has a bit of everything. It offers some more argumentation to explain the album's popularity. The opening and closing aren't spectacular though, just some romantic themes with a light jazzy folk feel, rather mellow and stale. However, in the middle sit some very beautiful minutes, reminding me of Oldfield's Hergest Ridge. Harmonium add loads of mellotron on top of the acoustic instruments and create a magical dreamy atmosphere that develops nicely.

If you like light pastoral music (in other words if you like the album art), you will probably adore this album. I can't find it a masterpiece of anything, just an average album with a couple of carefully hidden minutes of excellence. I'm still undecided between 2 and 3 stars. If it would continue to find its way into my player I might round it up eventually.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#284475)
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hm,

I love symphonic progressive rock, even if it is somewhat on the "naive" side (like, for example, Neuschwansteins "Alice in wonderland"; so given the reviews I was expecting quite a lot.

Well, I am a bit disappointed and here is why:

1. Vert: 2,5 Stars pleasant listening, but no more.

2. Dixie: 1 Star: completely misses me

3. Depuis L'automne: 3 Stars Pretty emotional and moody, but also a bit dull at times

4. En Pleine Face: 2 Stars Moody, but misses me again

5. Histoires Sans Paroles: 4 stars: Well, thats another story indeed. Beautiful flute work and catchy piano phrases and singing. It has some dull moments but mostly very pleasant listening.

So, without the final track, this would not have interested me at all, but it was worth buying for that final song alone.

Overall 3 Stars (3.0) !

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Send comments to herrkaiser (BETA) | Report this review (#284654)
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Possibly the most gorgeous, heart-wrenchingly beautiful progressive rock album ever produced, Harmonium's 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinqueme Saison' is a unique combination of ethereal folk, symphonic prog and acoustic campfire twiddling that belongs with that small group of wonderful recordings that somehow manage to transcend the era of their conception, thus remaining as fresh and vibrant as the day they were first heard. An otherwise little-known band, Harmonium were a French-Candian outfit who, apparently, harbour legendary status in Quebec and the rest of French-speaking Canada. They made three albums in their sadly-truncated career, with their folksy, self-titled debut and the orchestral 'L'Heptade' sandwiching this 1975 release. Their progression from album-to-album paints a picture of a rapidly developing band, with the slightly twee French folk of their debut giving way to a much more expansive set of sounds on 'Si On Avait...', which included, for the first time, keyboards, synths and the occasional electric guitar. However, what makes their music so splendid is the mixture of traditional ideas embellished with Yes-and-Genesis style prog flourishes which gives the music a very specific overall feel. However, whilst Harmonium can be described as a prog band, their penchant for cooking up such beautifully-constructed melodies, thanks in part to lead-singer Michel Normandeau's achingly-beautiful vocals, gives them a distinct sound all of their own, combining rich instrumentation with epic themes and tinges of classic French influences. For those of us out there who still believe that England produced the best prog(and this reviewer was firmly in that camp until very recently), Harmonium and, to a lesser extent, Italy's PFM, will surely change your tune. Whilst bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis and King Crimson proved to be hugely influential, it is their European cohorts who have created the more cerebral and passionate music that simply has to be heard to be believed. Harmonium, a band who remain obscure outside of Canada to this very day, have, in this sumptuous release, created one of the most beautful and original albums ever created in an y genre, any time or any place. Strong words I know, l but once you hear the album you will understand everything. In a word: Superb. Who needs Pink Floyd... STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#288637)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Harmonium - Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison (1975)

If mellotron, than buy. If on vinyl, than maximum enjoyment.

The position of this album in our beloved PA top 100 chart makes us believe this is really something. Harmonium is a Canadian symphonic/crossover progressive group with a focus on beauty. There are simply no rock elements, all arrangements are acoustic or have an acoustic sound. The lyrics are sung in French, which suits the gentle music fine. The combination of piano-mellotron-acoustic guitars and the lack of drums creates this extremely gentle, emotional and intense music. The band has a lot of amazing harmonic finds that are played carefully with an artistic vibe as if the band came from Italy. The recording of this record is amazing, audiophiles should have a vinyl version of it.

The only resembling atmosphere I could find in my collection was Celeste - Principe Di Un Giorno album of the RPI-canon. Perhaps one could find a link to equally gentle Sigur Ros. And just as with Celeste and Sigur Ros, Harmonium might not satisfy all fans of the progressive ROCK genre. The lack of electric guitars, synthesizers and the usual portion of compositional sophistication might get some bored. Furthermore this record isn't a symphonic record fully. The two tracks have a French chanson sound vibe, though I must say their arrangements and recording are amazing. Depuis L'Automne is a symphonic track and the main attraction of this record Histoires Sans Paroles is of course a progressive symphonic epic. These two tracks consist of amazingly beautiful instrumental parts and some atmospheric sophistication. The vocals are very warm. The development of these two tracks is strong and very natural, the band takes the time it needs to show us want they want us to hear.

Conclusion. This record is like an emotional child-hood film. It has warm characteristics, it's changes my moods, it takes me to wherever the record is going. The sound of vinyl is simply amazing, even the chanson-like tracks in the beginning sound masterful. The playful opening tracks and the symphonic latter tracks on the album are mixed into a well told story. Since I own a vinyl of this album I can understand why so many gave this five stars. It's just the beauty of it all.. I myself will give this four stars. It's a very recommended record, but it's crossover/related sound doesn't make it essential for a progressive rock collection IMHO. This record is especially recommended to fans of the symphonic genre, progressive folk and gentle music in general. My favorite Canadian record! Four stars.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#289249)
Posted Monday, July 05, 2010 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I can relate to most 3 star rated reviews about this album roughly. I too think this is quite an overrated piece of progressive art, at least where my personal taste is concerned. And I don't feel this is sheer symphonic prog either. More like 50% symphonic and 50% prog folk. And I also agree this can be called sort of hippie music indeed proven by the art work.

The shorter tracks are more or less forgettable but even the second longest track, Depuis L'Automne isn't mindblowing by any means to me. Just the instrumental epic is really worthwhile to me and secures the 3 star rating in the end. By far the most progressive track and worthy of 4 stars at least. (and the only one with significant mellotron by the way)

But the rest is barely more than 3 star level if you ask me and therefore I can't go further than 3 stars for the entire album. Not bad but not too special either.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#289663)
Posted Thursday, July 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars I was pleasantly surprised by this album! I love the folky feel this album gives and Harmonium does a spectacular job at creating the feels of the 4 seasons (and the 5th) for this concept album. This is a true prog gem and I'm surprised it is not more well known. Though the vocals are in french, the vocalist still does a tremendous job at conveying the overall mood of the album.This album is very relaxing and has a very european feel to it. I will definitely give it five stars and my personal recommendation! If you are looking for somethinga little obscure and a little on the softer side, look no further!

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Send comments to garla1lh (BETA) | Report this review (#289843)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Since I started to access this site, I saw this album, but did not give much importance.But in a day, without having much to do, I decided to listen to the songs of album.And my first thought was: How could you ignore a masterpiece like this?All though there are no drums here, but this is compensated with a lot of guitars, flutes, bass, Mellotrons, synthesizers, vocals-all perfect! An excellent album!

The first track, "Vert," represents the spirit of the album (actually every song has a different spirit, as each one representing a season). She is very cheerful and wonderful.This adjectives can represent the second-and well- song "Dixie", like the extremely positive.I like of clarinet´s contribution here. "Depuis L'Automne" is darker, this is an extremely dominated by mellotron music, but the vocal harmonies provide her with a wonderful piece. "En pleine face" is the most melancholy (after all represents the winter)and beautiful, but the best is yet to come. "Histoires Sans Paroles" was the first track on the album I heard (long before the other), but I did not give much attention.Now i know it was a terrible error! This is the best song on the album-I will not say it's one of the best I've ever heard in my life, but it is a great song, it does not have doubt!The mellotron,the acoustic guitar and flute annuities in harmony for a song created unparalleled.

Certainly a large or major album, a shame that I recognize it later!

(10/10)

-Vert -Dixie -Depuis L'Automne -En pleine face -Histoires sans paroiles

Average-10

5 stars

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Send comments to voliveira (BETA) | Report this review (#346480)
Posted Tuesday, December 07, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#422596)
Posted Friday, March 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has been on my radar for quite some time, Since I Have this thing about vinyl , I waited to secure a copy in that medium to make my first acquaintance with it. I thought 15 bucks was a steal by the way, I was a little scared off by the no drums thing, Visions of Steeleye Span in my eye, Combine that with the French Vocal, It had The Potential for disaster for me ,i must admit, I was really expecting a masterpiece of other worldly magnificence . First I will say it was a little different than i Imagined, no Hard edges at all. But the symphonic beauty of this is astounding. Folkies , Psyche nuts, and straight progers can get much out of this. never one time did i say, " where's the drums" and the french vocals meld so well with the instruments , its astounding. A thoroughly original album, and one of the few times i wasn't let down, I typically like harder edged music, but some how i am drawn into it's light. Gorgeous isn't a strong enough adjective, simply a perfect piece of music.

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Send comments to darkprinceofjazz (BETA) | Report this review (#425308)
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Si On Avait..." by Harmonium is an absolute masterpiece, and not too many people disagree with that verdict.

This album is so beautiful. Like, rainbows and butterflies and bunnies kind of beautiful. There isn't much to say about this album that hasn't already been said many a time. This whole album is mostly acoustic and mostly void of percussion. The compositions flow flawlessly through the albums concept, which is based on the four seasons and a fictional season for the sake of originality. The epic tracks on this album never bore, and they seem to keep an almost classical feel without being even remotely classical. My personal favorite track on the album is "Dixie" which is beautiful but also extremely fun and ragtimey, and the members get to show off their incredible chops during the very professionally executed solos.

For anyone interested in progressive rock in general, this is a mandatory listening experience.

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Send comments to colorofmoney91 (BETA) | Report this review (#431296)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars Yesterday I have listened to this album after some time and I realized that I have never written a review of it. Of course there's not much that I can add about an album that's close to the PA top 10 and has already 450 reviews.

First of all one thing that hits the listener is the absence of drums and percussions. The rhythmic parts are left to bass and acoustic guitars, and this is amazing. Secondly, the excellent mix of flute and keyboards replaces what is usually the role of electric guitars.

The vocals are sometimes jazzy and what is most important, Harmonium are great arrangers.

Just to make an example, the same four chords of the stanza in the first song "Vert" (Green) were used by an Italian non-prog singer-songwriter that was very influenced by French "chansonniers". I think Harmonium had a similar influence having started as folk band, but the way those four chords are used and arranged is totally different. The Italian guy made a quite boring sad and dark song while Vert is amazingly arranged.

I have to say that personally I like the side A a bit more than side B, but the whole album fully deserves its position in the top 100. This symphonic prog with jazz and folk elements is fantastic and the instrumentation is unique.

The dreaming cover picture fits well with the music inside. If you like that picture you'll surely like the album, too.

A masterpiece from the 70s, less known than other masterpieces probably because they are Canadian and sing in French, and it may have limited its distribution.

A must have for all the fans of symphonic prog, and of prog in general.

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Send comments to octopus-4 (BETA) | Report this review (#451246)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison," besides having one of the hardest to type titles of all time for non-native French speakers, is the rare album that deserves its lofty reputation and more, a work that is all at once grand, sweeping, warm and intimate. Virtually unknown outside of its native country of Quebec and hardcore progressive rock circles, it is without question one of the most overlooked albums of the '70s and a triumph for folk music as well as progressive rock.

Harmonium takes some of the folk elements of a group like Simon and Garfunkel and distills the weepiness from it and adding shades of jazz as well as the symphonic elements we all know and love, leaving music that is emotionally charged but never overwrought or pitiful. "Saison" is a record that is truly joyful in places, with a dose of melancholy that keeps the experience layered.

More than that, it is an album that feels strangely private, like the band is putting on a special concert just for you. The vocals are often borderline whispered and even at its most grand the lack of percussion leaves the album feeling oddly compressed, as though it were composed in an open field but preformed in a small room. It leaves the music with a wistful quality that's hard to describe: The music feels like it was made to be bigger than the album that contains it, so instead of merely bursting to get out it scales itself back and translates all of its drama and glory into a form that's more easily expressed for recorded musical purposes. The effect is often nothing short of magical.

Speaking of magical, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the album's centerpiece, and Harmonium's magnum opus as a band, the side-length "Histoires Sans Paroles," or translated to English "History Without Words." It's an apt title as the song proves to be a mesmerizing instrumental work, immaculately composed and lushly composed, something akin to Pink Floyd's "Echoes" as preformed by Nick Drake. Cosmic yet pastoral, harrowing and somehow comforting at the same time, the song is one of contemporary music's most overlooked epics and the quickest 17 minutes of your entire life.

In a pair of genres rife with unambitious groups who are content to ceaselessly mimic their inspirations, "Saison" is the rare progressive rock album that is as beloved by diehards as it is by casual listeners who stumble upon it; it's a testament to the creativity and innovation that can inhabit both the progressive and folk genres simultaneously, an olive branch between complexity and emotional resonance, and a heartwarming work that quiets troubled souls and puts worries at ease even as it supplies a stage for its own enthralling emotional ride. It's the musical equivalent of a soft kiss and it's an album that nobody who desires a balanced music collection can afford to miss out on.

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Send comments to 40footwolf (BETA) | Report this review (#502734)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Warning: Contains the happiest song of all time...

Harmonium were a short-lived Canadian symphonic/folk band that released three studio albums between 1974 and 1976. This sophomore effort was a concept album with one song for each of the seasons, and a fifth track representing a new and imaginary season.

The Good: This is a truly beautiful album with a mentality reflected by its surreal cover art. With each piece comes a different style, ranging from the super buoyant Dixie with its signature piano solo, to the calm and reflective En Pleine Face. The seventeen minute finale Histoire Sans Paroles has an almost hypnotic quality to it and flows effortlessly.

The Bad: Depuis L'Automne is slightly drawn out but even that is hardly worth mentioning.

The Verdict: One of the most emotional and welcoming albums I have ever heard, and a worthy contender for the Prog Archives top twenty.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#503262)
Posted Monday, August 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Those expecting symphonic prog along the likes of the giants of the genre will be in for a big surprise when listening to Harmonium's "Fifth Season"-themed concept album, steeped as it is in gentle, intimate, acoustic folk. After opening with the comparatively straight-ahead folk number Vert and the trad jazz-tinged Dixie, the band move into progressively more progressive territory with each successive song, with the final song - Histoires Sans Paroles, representing the imaginary fifth season - applying symphonic prog song structures to the band's music.

Although I can't in good conscience give this one five stars due to the presence of Dixie - a weak song whose descend into imitation Dixieland jazz doesn't really suit the mood of the album - I can concur with the general consensus that regardless of whether you come to it from a prog folk or a symphonic perspective, Cinquieme Saison is a charming and beautiful album which manages to be delicate and intimate without becoming hokey or cheesy.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#547459)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Harmonium's pinnacle of infamy is found here on 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinqui'me Saison' which is a real work of art with some masterful moments mixed with quirky humour.

The beauty is located in such symphonic treasures as 'Depuis L'Automne' with very strong mellotron tones and acoustic mixed with flute and pulsing bass. The innovation of the music is stunning on such pieces, though the opening track is a bit too weird in places, sounding silly with Focus like excursions in to vocal whimsy. It never resonated with me personally, almost sounding like the band are high, but it has its place in the context of the era it was created.

The band are legendary in Quebec and France but hail from Canada so they are a diverse group. The musicianship is exemplary; Pierre Daigneault on flute, piccolo, Soprano saxophone, clarinet; Serge Fiori on guitar, flute, zither harp, bass drum; Serge Locat on piano, mellotron, synthesizer; Michel Normandeau on guitar, accordion; Louis Valois on bass guitar, electric piano; and all add vocals along with Judy Richard who features on 'Histoires Sans Paroles'.

There is still no replacing the magic of the musical breaks when the vocals are kept aside. I have no idea what the French lyrics are saying but the music is able to transport it's beauty throughout. The band have a dominant focus on instrumentals or lengthy musical breaks. 'En Pleine Face' begins side two with admirable quality. The instrumental is laced with flute, beautiful acoustic and piano. The strings sound ambient along with backward swells and spacey violin mellotron sounds. Perhaps this is one of the group's finest compositions.

'Histoires Sans Paroles' is a huge 17 minute epic that has sprawling instrumental breaks. The mellotron has a strong presence and it is refreshing to hear the female vocals of Judy with her 'la da da's' accompanied by gorgeous flute. The track is mostly instrumental as is the majority of side two with intonations now and then to add to the beauty. The symphonic splendour of multi layered musicianship is stunning; piano, acoustic, mellotron, and effects. The effects of seagulls, crashing waves and babbling brooks has become a clich' in prog but Harmonium were one of the first. Many bands in the modern prog scene use the seagulls and waves effect as it definitely transports one to another place of isolation and beauty. The flute is a joyful bright augmentation to the theme of the changing seasons. This is an album to relax to and let your emotions be consumed by the art of Harmonium.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#551654)
Posted Monday, October 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I´ve read of this plaque before (maybe in this site) that it could be a serious contender for "prettiest record ever made", i endorse to that. This is not only a remarkable beautiful melodic record (and a "pretty" concept album), it is an deep, yet light exploration of what can be done in folk/prog. I have always related this plaque with Van Morrison´s "Astral weeks", for me both of them are explorations, of different kinds, but with very similar work tools. This is, of course, their masterpiece, and one of the master pieces of progressive music of all time.

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Send comments to AléxandrosDemos (BETA) | Report this review (#576554)
Posted Sunday, November 27, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you have any hesitation about taking on this album because the vocals are not in english you can hesitate no longer. I don't speak a word of french and don't understand anything that is sung on this entire album. The vocal melodies are so strong it doesnt matter what language they're sung in. The music on this album is very inspiring its acoustic guitars,woodwinds,mellotrons and other great atmospheric instruments are all gently placed perfectly through out this album creating a very cohesive flow from track to track. Each song does a great job of evoking the season it represents. Beautiful vocal harmonies carry a few memorable moments that you will sing to your self for days.This album is a must to any prog folker or symphonic prog lover. It has earned a spot on my desert island list.

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Send comments to Glimmung (BETA) | Report this review (#588585)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Harmonium: Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison [1975]

Rating: 9/10

Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison is the second album from Quebec-based progressive-rock group Harmonium. A quick glance through other reviews will reveal abundant use of the word "beautiful." The unfamiliar may be tempted to scoff at such a description; after all, "beautiful" is a rather loaded word. However, if the term aptly applies to any album, it is this one. This sophomore release shows the band combining the folk sounds of their debut with complex symphonic structures and lush pastoral atmospheres. The result is one of the most gorgeous albums ever recorded. Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison sounds just like what the album cover would suggest: an ethereal voyage through a sun-soaked meadow.

These five pieces form a conceptual sequel to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. The first four tracks represent the four normal seasons, and the fifth and final piece symbolizes an imaginary fifth season. This concept fits the music perfectly, from the rural instrumentation - acoustic guitars and flutes galore with no percussion to be found - to the quiet vocal work of Serge Fiori. "Vert" opens the album with gorgeous flutes and subtle guitar. Fiori's vocals are in prime form here, particularly during the scat sections near the end. "Dixie" is a ragtime-infused folk-rock song with jaunty instrumentation. This track tends to divide fans, but I find it to be irresistibly charming. The ten-minute "Depuis L'Automne" is an absolute masterpiece. The vocals are unforgettable, and the Mellotron-laden middle section is one of the most beautiful things to ever grace my ears. The somber "En Pleine Face" features Fiori's best vocal performance on the album, which is definitely saying something. "Histoires Sans Paroles" is a 17-minute symphonic piece. This breathtaking track needs to be experienced; I cannot quantify it through words.

Harmonium created something truly special with Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison. It's difficult not to get chills during certain points of this pastoral masterwork. Perhaps the most impressive element of this album is Harmonium's ability to create so much out of so little. The instrumentation is rather sparse, but the band manages to craft enormous music out of it. The performances are tangibly soulful and the composition is a nothing short of genius. Many consider this to be the greatest album ever to come out of Quebec, and I must agree - every second of this masterpiece exudes pure beauty.

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Send comments to Anthony H. (BETA) | Report this review (#590191)
Posted Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Eclectic Prog Team
2 stars This progressive folk album consists primarily of acoustic instruments (no electric guitar or drums at all). It is indeed a very beautiful album ("Dixie" excepted, since that's a bit of ragtime fluff that doesn't fit in). However, only two of the pieces engage me ("Vert" and "Depuis L'Automne"). While the seventeen-minute instrumental that is meant to the be the majestic centerpiece of the album, it mostly fails to impress. Most folks who enjoy pastoral, pensive, quiet music will love this, but I am afraid I am in the minority.

"Vert" Light acoustic guitars and dual flutes lays the foundation for delicate male vocal harmonies similar to those of America, eventually erupting in layers of saxophone. This band makes an interesting use of delay, which has the effect of doubling the lead instruments such that it sounds like two musicians are performing one after the other. The final moments offer some impromptu vocalizations, guitar work, and flute that fit within the scope of the music.

"Dixie" This ragtime piece relies on fingerpicked acoustic guitar, honky-tonk piano and hushed layers of vocals. The singer begins scatting before a sprightly clarinet bursts in with a lively solo. It's cute, fun, and well-performed, but that is all.

"Depuis L'Automne" Pleasant vocals and acoustic guitar open this one. Washes of Mellotron and harmonics eventually bathe the listener in a pleasant musical aura. It is a gorgeous piece of music that makes lovely use of major-seventh chords. It picks up in a happy mood later, but ends in a menacing Mellotron that does not fit the context of the piece.

"En Pleine Face" A weird, spacey tone introduces this piece, which goes straight into more light acoustic music. The addition of the accordion and zither adds another dimension to the song, but that high-pitched whistling in the background is piercing and unwelcome.

"Histoires Sans Paroles" The lengthiest piece, a fifth season, begins with a woodwind and acoustic guitar. It stays pleasant for a while, but becomes rather discordant about a third of the way in. Dreamy Mellotron envelopes the piece. Eventually, a charging piano enters underneath additional vocalizations. While the segments are mostly beautiful, they do not fit well collectively, as though they were randomly strung together to fill out the rest of the album. Many of the parts consist of a Mellotron or piano alone. The jaunty section toward the end is rather unimaginative, comprising woodwind soloing over a rather banal rhythm.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#646041)
Posted Sunday, March 04, 2012 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Not that anyone else should care, but I figured it's about time I caught up with this gem: the highest ranked album here at Progarchives that I've never heard, and from a band I was completely unfamiliar with.

The popularity of Harmonium apparently never extended to the west coast of California, where I cut my Prog Rock teeth at exactly the same time the band was reaching its creative zenith with this album. But they must have at least made it to the French Quarter of New Orleans, judging here by the song "Dixie". The combination of Québécois folk and Dixieland jazz may sound a little contrived on paper, but it works where it matters most: between the headphones, becoming just another unlikely but effective stylistic juxtaposition in the fertile musical landscape of the 1970s.

And after hearing the band's self-titled 1974 debut, it's clear they raised the aesthetic stakes for their sophomore album, from the peerless craftsmanship of their folk-rock origins to the pure artistry of whatever-it-is we define as Progressive Rock. To an Anglophile like me there's an echo of the same energy driving the better Canterbury bands, but expressed here with more upbeat, unplugged enthusiasm, better suited to the odd array of instruments: accordion, clarinet, zither harp, lots of acoustic guitars, and so forth.

You might hear the occasional spoon or washboard too (again, in the song "Dixie"), but elsewhere they manage to generate considerable symphonic grandeur for a group without a drummer (they do employ a Mellotron, and with dramatic flair). This is especially true in the joyful, rising chorus of "Depuis L'Automne", and throughout the 17-plus minute "Histoires Sans Paroles": a pastoral epic which borrows a sound similar to early Genesis and elevates it to a level the boys at Charterhouse could only imagine a half decade earlier. And all of it with vocal harmonies so gorgeous that you might suspect the cop out of studio auto-tuning if the album had been recorded today.

In retrospect, if I had come of age somewhere closer to the Canadian Maritime Provinces instead of a continent away on the Pacific coast of northern California, I likely would be awarding the album the coveted fifth star of an undisputed classic. It might earn that honor yet, after a few more spins. Don't be like me and deprive yourself of music this good for half a lifetime.

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Send comments to Neu!mann (BETA) | Report this review (#681061)
Posted Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Because of it's many great reviews and high rating on this site I figured this was an album I should check out. There are only 5 songs on this and they are all good. But not great. I have tried many times to get into SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIEME SAISOn, but to no avail. It seems just so much harmless French folk music. Sorry. That is how I feel and I can't help feeling I may be missing something but I have given up on it. My 3 stars seems so low compared to all the 5 star ratings but there it is...

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#733617)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars What I think about this album is the best album from Quebec, ever. Because of the melodies, the lyrics, the musicianship, the concept and Serge Fiori's voice. Everything about this album is so beautiful.

The opening track, Vert (Green) is about spring. It represents this season so well with the wonderful flute and the bass lines.

Dixie is about summer. It's about the joy that we live throughout this season. And this joy is also brought by the instruments. Everyone knew that this was going a hit. It's the only song from this album that was released as a single and did charted in my Belle Province.

Depuis l'Automne (Since Autumn) is again about this season and the inspiration about nationalism at the time. Lyrics like: Si c't un rêve, réveille moé dont. Ça va être notre tour. Ça sera pas long. J'espère ici parce que ça s'en vient (If it's a dream wake me up. It will be our turn. It won't be long. I hope that's now because it's coming) represents these aspirations.

En Pleine Face (In Your Face) is the saddest song, because it is about this sad season that we us quebecers live, winter.

Histoires Sans Paroles (Stories Without Words) is an instrumental, but it's about this imaginary season that the members of the band invented. It should be about the outbreak of the soul.

In conclusion, there will never be an album like this that everyone loved. I asked to my mom who in her familly listened to this album. And she said "everyone".

In conclusion, this is a perfect album, even if it dosent have drums.

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Send comments to geneyesontle (BETA) | Report this review (#743394)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Today I was preparing some of my "rarely used" (euphemism for "out of favor") LP's for sale on eBay. Pulled out the Cinquieme Saison out of its storage bin. Since the record was bought in mint condition and barely got used, I had to play-grade it to be able to legitimately claim NM status. And so I did .. and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to keep it.

I may never find out why this album had originally fallen out of favor (one's mind is a great big mystery, even one's one mind). But, I a can give you all a few reasons why the Cinquieme Saison was re-instated, given a heavy-duty jacket cover and returned to the E-J bin :)

(1) From the moment the stylus sank on the vinyl, I was amazed how quiet it was. The sound quality was outstanding as well (BTW, for the wax worshipers: CEL-1900).

(2) I don't know if I the word "prog" would be first thing that springs to my mind when I think of Cinquieme Saisons; is more of romantic folk rock. But, it's well composed, well played and well sung - as far as I am concerned, these along would be sufficient grounds for rating it better than average.

(3) The music is rather gentle, sweet and soothing, but - surprisingly- free of any syrupy, artificially introduced or sterile stuff. I'd add another star just for this hard-to-attain equilibrium.

(4) Other than one, somewhat boring/repetitive stretch towards the end of the Side A, the music is really very tasteful and free of any flaws.

So, in spirit of Sunday generosity I'll round the 4.5 stars up to FIVE.

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Send comments to Argonaught (BETA) | Report this review (#816564)
Posted Saturday, September 08, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars With this album I was finally able to overcome my "language bias," and I'm so glad I did. This album is simply beautiful from beginning to end. While not very complex, the melodies and mood changes are abundant and lush, and atmospheres and soundscapes it creates are equally remarkable. Musically this is a perfect combination of folk and symphonic music in a progressive context. It puts to great use some classic prog instruments such as flute, keyboard, and especially mellotron to create some truly stunning music.

The opening 'Vert' has some vocals and acoustic guitar along with a bit of flute throughout to give it a really folky sound. But the keyboard touches also give it that symphonic edge.

'Dixie,' as the name implies, is a very Dixieland-sounding song. It is fast, exciting, warm, and busy, very much like the summer season.

'Despuis L'Automne' perfectly conveys the feeling and atmosphere of autumn. It is mostly happy, but you can taste a bit of solemnity in the crisp sound. The mellotron use in this song is absolutely stunning, and extremely well done. As atmospherically proficient as this, there are still a few cool melodies, especially the one starting about seven minutes in.

'En Pleine Face' emulates the somberness of winter with its relatively more melancholic nature, but is still serene musically.

'Histoires Sans Paroles' represents the fifth season, which has a combination moods and soundscapes throughout. The opening is pretty folky and has a very positive vibe with flute and acoustic guitar. But the song quickly gains a symphonic edge with a substantial use of mellotron. The music gains a rather ominous mood by five minutes with the flute. The mood changes to joyful again around eight minutes when the piano and wordless vocals come in. This changes yet again to a more somber mood with gliding flute and sax superimposed over mellotron and acoustic guitar before ending on a gracefully positive note.

10/10

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Send comments to Mr. Mustard (BETA) | Report this review (#866995)
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Let's say this first: What's makes this album a masterpiece is almost just one song, a marvelous composition named Histoires sans paroles but that song really knocks the listener down on her knees or makes her fly in the heaven of tunes. Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison is Harmonium's second record of three and was released in 1975. It has a magnificent cover that whispers about what is going to come. There are five men on this record: Pierre Daigneault, Serge Fiori, Serge Locat, Michel Normandeau and Louis Valois. These five gentlemen plays five tracks and on those track they master many instruments like mellotron, harp, flute, clarinet, saxophone, guitar, drums, piano, synthesizer, accordion, bass, electric guitar and vocals. I especielly like the clarinet that gives the music live in a new way.

The first side welcomes us with a playful feeling and much happiness in "Vert" which also has great vocal harmonies and in "Dixie" which has a totally different style, a very poppy symphonic folk song and "Depuis l'otomne" is also very different whit a lot of drama and the sound och sweaping wings and a strong ending. The second side's first song "En pleine face" has an acoustic feeling with a playful vocal section and very french accordion. Finaly we have "Histoires sans paroles", one of the best instrumental pieces in rock music history which is bult up so clever with a wonderful melody that starts softly (driven by flutes) and in the end of the song breaks out in music euphoria. What happens in the middle is fantastic. It goes from a folky to a mystic spacy atmosphere but something is slowly meant to come. The listener beacomes curious and the lasting minutes make it even more exciting. This track makes the record. Without it, with weaker b-track it would have ended up with three stars or perhaps four. But this monster of seventeen minutes also helps the other songs to recognition. Those have what "Histoires sans paroles" lacks, great vocals and other styles. A fascinating lp from this french canadian band. On more five star ranking.

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Send comments to DrömmarenAdrian (BETA) | Report this review (#964257)
Posted Thursday, May 23, 2013 | Review Permalink
Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As my love for performing and listening to music spans all genres, I have been away from the world of prog for quite some time. Clearly the lack of time counted for some of it, and once the semester was over, I used this album to combat the hectic beats of EDM and house music.

Unusual for most prog albums, I expected to hear at least one song with drums somewhere, but on this particular album, they're pretty much absent. A bit upsetting for me (as i AM a drummer, after all), but considering the men making up Harmonium replaced it with beautiful ballads, sweeping flute lines and harmonious string sections, they deserve credit where credit is due. By removing one instrument from the common setup, the rest of the outfit needs to work double time.

"Vert" kicks off by doing just that. Even without a drumset to keep the beat, the opener feels like it has a groove, and halfway in, when the glorious sax lines come in, you hardly realize its absence. From the way the flute lulls you in the opening, you figure it's just your typical ballad, yet it resolves in a groovy jam session when the tune finally resolves, even with the flute making a reappearance in the closing seconds.

"Dixie" is another example of the humorous side of this record. The name implies a distinct American soundtrack, amplified by the ragtime-esque playing of the keys. And do I hear someone playing the spoons? That alone makes it awesome. The clarinet solo makes it all the more authentic, and it really shows in the musicianship that these French Canadians have.

"Depuis L'Automne" then takes the record into a more serious note. The ominous intro makes it more so before the melody softly comes in with the vocals coming in. This melody continues and grows for about 4 minutes before the string section dominates the track and takes center stage for another 3 minutes or so. With roughly 3 minutes left, a beautiful synth lick undercuts the chorus before the last section of the song begins, another guitar based melody for about a minute and a half. No, it's not necessarily an exciting track, but it does wonders when recovering from a migraine. Oh, and it's a good song too (especially as the very end of the song ends minor, much like the way the song began. A very clever bookend)

"En pleine face" is another soft guitar ballad, except much shorter and easier to listen to, with an excellent chorus at the end. The accordian makes for a nice touch though, giving the song that unique Parisian sound.

Lastly, "Histoires sans paroles", the 17 minute goliath of a track. Although, it's not really a monster. The gentle sounds of an ocean wave bleed into a beautiful melody intertwined between flute, guitar and string, before the guitar takes center stage about 4 minutes in (sounds very Jethro Tull-ish there). However, at the 5 minute mark, the song takes a turn for the very progressive worst. Tri-tones and major 7ths are plucked all around the guitar lead as the flute suddenly becomes the main attraction. Then once the dust settles, 7 minutes in, the string section leads into a glorious piano solo, with vocals layed overtop.

At the 10 minute mark, the strings and guitar continue the melody with that oceanfront sound re-emerging, with chordal backup by the flute and saxophone. The sound stays pretty much constant till about the 13 minute mark, where the guitar tone changes into a decidedly more Spanish sound, as the tempo changes into a Waltz-like movement. The bass plays V- I as the song has more of a dance-like feel, especially when the piano solo comes in. The flute melody that comes in over the top is wonderful, as is the playful chromatic solo downwards.

Verdict: This isn't a modern prog record. (Obviously), but the musicianship of this group of multi-talented individuals cannot be ignored. Although every detail needs to be cherished (since the major melodic changes are so rare on this record), it really makes in impact when you're not paying attention. I fell asleep listening to "Depuis L'Automne". That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the goal that Harmonium was aiming for is achieved with this record. It's a beautiful recording inside and out, and the changes in style and certainly the humor can be identified with the first two tracks, but the "Depuis" and "Histoires" are not for the faint of heart. They take a certain amount of dedication and patience to get through. That's why I cannot recommend this album for everyone. The lack of true excitement will bore some people. But if you just want a set of songs to soothe your head after a long day's work, look no further than Harmonium's "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison".

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Send comments to Wicket (BETA) | Report this review (#979262)
Posted Sunday, June 16, 2013 | Review Permalink
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: *****

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Send comments to Xonty (BETA) | Report this review (#989655)
Posted Sunday, June 30, 2013 | Review Permalink

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