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HARMONIUM

Symphonic Prog • Canada


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Harmonium biography
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1972 - Disbanded in 1977

This Quebec-based Progressive rock band, who sang in French, has a very apt name in HARMONIUM. The core was a folk trio formed by guitarists Serge FIORI and Michel NORMANDEAU, and bassist Louis VALOIS. Their career was short (five years) and they released three studio albums in the mid-Seventies and a posthumous live album. They started off as a jazzy and typically French folk trio but began to delve into more progressive material on their brilliant second album, "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison" ("If We Needed a Fifth Season"). They are regarded as one of the finest exponents (along with POLLEN and MANEIGE) of the "Golden Era of Quebec Progressive Music" Scene.

"Harmonium" is a "folky" album, but it contains progressive elements too. By their 2nd album, they were very much a cross between a symphonic rock band and a folk band; an interesting combination which you can hear most clearly on the 20-minute "Histoire Sans Paroles". Overall, a perfect album to start your French Canadian prog collection. With "L'Heptade", they reached their symphonic/progressive zenith. In addition to the now increasingly large band, classical instruments and mellotron are used throughout. This elegant double album is a testament to the potential of the genre. Both are really satisfying; if you are a confirmed proggy-prog band head,to begin with. "Harmonium en tournée" is an excellent live version of their conceptual work "L'Heptade". Fans of brave musical experiments and elegant songwriting could not be disappointed by HARMONIUM...!

See also: WiKi

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Harmonium // HarmoniumHarmonium // Harmonium
Unidisc Music Inc. 2000
$15.99
$11.00 (used)
Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saisonSi on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison
Unidisc Music Inc. 2007
$16.99
$16.92 (used)
L'Heptade Xl 40th AnnL'Heptade Xl 40th Ann
Sony Music Canada Inc. 2016
$15.19
$11.80 (used)
L'heptadeL'heptade
Sony Import 2007
$23.68 (used)
En TourneeEn Tournee
Zone 3 2007
$132.54
$54.99 (used)
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HARMONIUM discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

HARMONIUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 216 ratings
Harmonium
1974
4.35 | 1236 ratings
Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
1975
4.09 | 304 ratings
L'Heptade
1976
4.93 | 6 ratings
Serge Fiori - Seul Ensemble
2019

HARMONIUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.21 | 89 ratings
Harmonium En Tournée
1980

HARMONIUM Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.22 | 14 ratings
Harmonium en Californie
2001

HARMONIUM Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

HARMONIUM Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
100.000 Raisons
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
Dixie
1975
3.50 | 2 ratings
Harmonium (Promo Single)
1975

HARMONIUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Serge Fiori - Seul Ensemble by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 2019
4.93 | 6 ratings

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Serge Fiori - Seul Ensemble
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by bertolino

5 stars "Tout change, tout me dérange Je me reconnais plus » - Serge Fiori, opening words of L'Exil" from l'Heptade.

"All changes, everything bothers me. I don't recognize myself anymore". This would summarize Serge Fiori's thoughts at the result of a tribute album in honor of his oeuvre under the guise of Harmonium. Hopefully this is not, because he has been involved, low and behold, in the recreation of "Serge Fiori, Seul Ensemble", a double-cd set resuming the three records of Harmonium plus few additions. Few words about it later. But I won't delay my conclusion further: it's a thing of amazement, and a triumph!

I did report on this blog's site, a few years back, about the parution of a new solo album, simply titled "Fiori". Short of the "Prog Principle" it still had plenty to taste and rejoice, the quality of his voice still intact, within a simpler format, not too far from the first eponymous Harmonium record. Did look for a way to have it added here, and left the plot unfinished. Much had been said since about Fiori's psychic recovery and that, at this point, he would even dare to dream of going back to stage, at well past his sixties! To add to these considerations ,I strongly recommend , to anybody not being aware that Harmonium had been celebrated last year at the Quebec "Gala des artistes" , local equivalent of anyones' Grammies and Junos, to go to youtube and enjoy the ten minutes symphonic medley celebration, and further, the climbing on the scene off all the past members of the band. But be prepared to swallow your tears!

And then, as a Quebecois far from home, I stumbled on a cheap copy of l'Heptade in a (now rare) record store and was happy to refresh my cd version. Looking to few more info about the record, I went to my favorite archive site (here evidently) and stopped cold dead in front of the picture of "Fiori Seul Ensemble" DOUBLE CD SET full to the brim of nearly all the three original albums. Quick research toward my virtual Quebec thought me that Fiori and a trio of young contemporary musicians had agreed to the task of adapting Harmonium's music to a conceptual show by "Le Cirque Eloize", one of these clever modern versions of the traditional circus now firmly a trademark of Quebec with "Cirque du Soleil" and beyond. Physical copies being elusive out of Quebec, I paid ten european bucks for the download and here I am. So, few words for the wise: this is an adaptation for a visual show's purposes. In consequence, as overall changes and recreation matters, you will be confronted with more concise and dynamic versions of the songs. In many instances a new rhythm section is mixed as the song progresses, some aggressive electric guitar sometimes appears and you may feel it is done in order to add a "oomph factor" to the artistic / athletic performance on stage. Don't be worried though, as it truly doesn't butcher the songs. Still there will be place for debate (on some nation's fate). Main critics could converge toward the cutting of "magnum opuses" durations. On that I won't take a clear position, simply saying that some of the reworking had been so cleverly done that indeed I could take a few minutes more of these new versions?

Before I go for the song by song review, owing it to you all by the fact that I will be the very first reviewer, I will just resume by that amazing calculation: You will have onboard four out of eight songs from the first self-titled album, all five glorious ones from "Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison" and all but one (the often neglected "Lumieres De Vie") from l'Heptade, even adding for good measure two songs from his duet album "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure". A massive covering aficionados only could have dream of. So here we go:

I-1. Vert (6:24) What a nice way to open the project ! "Vert" is the overture of "Une Cinquieme Saison". The integrity of the song is preserved, better leave it pretty untouched anyway. Still there is something brilliant added here. The atmospherics and vocals of the title cut of "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure", a Fiori album with Richard Seguin right after the dissolution of Harmonium is mixed within the first minute. Clever! Already, one of the features of these new versions, a "drum'n bass" section during the middle section of the song adding some edge and bravado. A less wandering closing left the song cut by a minute.

I-2. Comme un fou (7:40) First real song from L'Heptade, it's probably in that position to open the show in fashion. Pretty much untouched, by separating it of the orchestral overture of origin and trimming it from it's classical arrangement's, the song feels more concise and dynamic. More a matter of context than actual modifications.

I-3. En pleine face (5:28) A strange feature here: a longer version! The opening of face two of "Une Cinquieme Saison" is yet close to the original, but much clearer, Fiori's voice triumphant, with choir added. This becomes the definitive version! One feel that in the context of the shows, Fiori and cohorts, being prudent, have chosen to present the initial songs with not too much altering.

I-4. De la chambre au salon (5:25) Following "En pleine face ", this demonstrates how well the pacing had been thought of. Similar light folk feeling, a continuation of the preceding one. Like other songs of the first eponymous disc, this one truly benefits of the new recreation. Here we are treated with the string quartet chamber like version. And this is one of the songs where we may hear new lines of Fiori's singing. A better diction, and less Quebecois accented or so it seems. This is now the best version available without a doubt, lighter and more joyful.

I-5. Ca fait du bien (8:31) This one seems to continue the « happy-go-lucky » segment. His origin is interesting. Never recorded by Harmonium, but finally served on "Deux Cent Nuits a  l'Heure", this maybe secondary to ProgArchives followers, but not for any Quebecois who did attend Harmonium shows, more mass or rituals actually, as this was the closing song of l'Heptade concerts. One can imagine the crowds singing in unison, a cappela for a while, often in tears of happiness, 'till Denis Farmer would bang his drums for the coming back of the band and the final wham! Still unforgettable souvenirs, forty years later.

I-6. Viens danser (5:16) If the attendance is not up on their feet at this stage of the show , this is a desperate cause! It is the second in a row of the songs added from the Fiori/Seguin album. The funny feeling and upbeat rhythm is in direct contradiction with Fiori's lyrics about the distress and disillusion of a pop star. Sweet and sour for that effect when one remember that he will then soon disappear for nearly thirty years from the music front. The song has new power added, in line with the show's purposes. But i doubt many here may compare.

I-7. Chanson noire (4:14) Keeping in with the feeling of happiness, the third song of l'Heptade, being cut by half, seems more effective for that matter. One can regret the Subirana's gymnastics on varied winds, but a more soulful version is offered in compensation, gospel choir included, and works nicely at this stage.

I-8. Depuis l'automne (9:36) A better way to close the first disc in beauty? If many may think that "Histoires sans paroles" is the chef-d'oeuvre of the second album, for me this is it. And still mostly preserved in due respect, losing a light thirty seconds in his new fashion. The middle atmospheric break truly gains, if possible, by the addition of a drum pattern and a trumpet solo reminiscent of the title cut of the first album, over the celebrated mellotron kept intact. And the remixing brings Fiori's chant and vocalese to the front, like in most of these new versions. The closing "Si c't'un reve reveille-moi donc", since recognized like a true national anthem, is augmented by a new rhythm section to close with vigor. A triumph!

II-1/ 2. Prologue (4:19) / Le premier ciel (7:16) Evident as an overture to the second disc, the orchestral intro often despised by those who don't like their prog "chamberised". Interestingly, the opening of l'Heptade is coupled here with the fourth cut of the original album instead of « Comme un fou ». "Le Premier Ciel" is chopped from four minutes of fat (moog), in the most effective way. Apart of this more concise version, few changes would be objects of discussion. Nice to have in the flow, especially in regard of what's following.

II-3. Le corridor (7:17) This one came to be my most revered song of l'Heptade, thanks to the celestial singing of Monique Fauteux. Here they decided to chop and cut the song. And I like it! The song opens with the closing of the original version. How did they dare? Following then, the second solo part of Fauteux, and entering a new instrumental segment, we're treated to a crescendoing moog solo lying over a now usual added rhythm section. The ending, having been used at the opening, is replaced by one of these deviled Chotem orchestral segments, augmented by electronics effects. Nicely done. II-4. Aujourd'hui, je dis bonjour a la vie (7:09) This one is at a strategic place, right in the middle of two revered songs, spiritual anthems of sorts. So it's interesting to have one song of the first album, following one from the third, and opening to one of the second. And it doesn't disappoint! For that purpose a longer instrumental guitar closing, nearly a minute and a half of atmospheric and yet heavy jangling acoustics does the job. Another one of the first album which seems improved.

II-5. Histoires sans paroles (7:07) Now, in a way this one could be the main offender of the whole project. Imagine the revered magnum opus of "Une Cinquieme Saison" chopped of a whole ten minutes. But how do it otherwise, in order to fit all the material on a double cd? And still it works. As long as you can accept one of these drum and guitars crescendo added right in the middle of it. Still some things have been improved. The closing female singing being added some choir like effects. At the end one can feel cheated but it's still a work of mastery.

II-6. L'exil (9:21) Nowhere else the cutting is more effective than on the last song of the first record of the double 'L'Heptade". At nearly four minutes less, you can still enjoy a whole plus nine minutes of it. Fiori's voice upfront, never may you feel more the distress and resentment which will lead Harmonium to counted time. A sense of alienation rendered more touching by a mostly preserved version of the original, apart of the mixing of the voice, until the strangely joyful ending -but more poignant for that! benefits from a more powerful mixing of the rhythm section.

II-7. Dixie (3:31) A sense of loss and depression had altered what should have been a matter of rejoice, not talking of the perspective of a circus show. So what better antidote than "Dixie" 's depicting summer from "Une Cinquieme Saison" The overall feeling left intact, and still all's changed, or so it seems. A banjo added, spoons removed, clarinet being cut but a whole wind section "A  la rescousse". So you guess, the pleasure is great to have now two "Dixies" for the price of one.

II-8. Harmonium (5:40) Closing the one/two punch with « Dixie», one may imagine the curse of the show following a growing intensity. In 1974 Harmonium happened to the world with a bang with this swinging, almost bossa-novaed eponymous song. A rare one of the first album mainly left untouched, with his melodious trumpet preserved, and from which the "Depuis l'Automne" addition is inspired.

II-9/10. Comme un sage (5:13) / Epilogue (2:44) L'Heptade closing has been amputated of ten minutes of variations on the famous melody. Here on this site many had expressed that they felt it was wandering and overlong so this shouldn't bother too many. Me I'm kind of devastated though. Yet I understand the reasons. At least we're left with the nicest part of the singing, and a clearer Fiori. As a gift, in the closing segment, being added to the choir, we're treated to small extracts of other Harmonium singalong sections which make for a nice addition. A rousing electric guitar solo reminds us of the live version of "Harmonium en tournee". And the orchestral coda is augmented by nice additions of instruments, percussive and acoustic guitar. The door is thus left open for

II-11. Un musicien parmi tant d'autres (4:13) The ending of the record is the most evident thing for any Quebecois, and very understandable in the context of the show for which the music is adapted. This is the celebrated anthem of the first, self-titled record and thus may be less revered by adepts of this site. They choose to cut the song of his first segment, open with the singalong one "On a mis quelqu'un au monde on devrait peut-etre l'ecouter" (freely translated by "We've gave birth to one, maybe we should listen to him"), and close with the ringing acoustic guitar. A very fitting end for a show.

And to an overlong review. But I thought this should deserve it, as a first review of a great achievement, maybe conceived as a testament. May I dare it's not?

 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1236 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 221

Harmonium was one of the best Canadian prog bands in the Province of Quebec. Harmonium's career was short, five years. It ended when the members of the band felt they had said all they had to say in the best possible way. Consequently, the three studio albums plus one live album that they left to posterity can all be considered important artistic statements. The band's impact on Quebec rock and culture in general has been tremendous, even in these days.

'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison', also known as 'Les Cinq Saisons', is the second studio album from Harmonium and was released in 1975. This album marks a change in the direction of their musical style. This new second studio album is less focused on folk, like their eponymous debut studio album 'Harmonium', to a more symphonic progressive rock style. It's a conceptual album around a seasonal concept. The first four songs are about the four traditional four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter but it has also a fifth song that represents an imaginary fifth season. As was usual, in those times on the Canadian bands from Quebec, the lyrics are all in French.

The line up of the album is Serge Fiori (lead vocals, guitar, flute, zither harp and bass drum), Michel Normandeau (vocals, guitar and accordion), Pierre Daigneault (flute, piccolo, soprano saxophone and clarinet), Louis Valois (vocals, bass guitar and electric piano), Serge Locat (piano, mellotron and synthesizer) and Judy Richard (vocalisations).

'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison', has five tracks. The first track 'Vert' written by Serge Fiori and Michel Normandeau is the song that corresponds to the first season of the year, spring. It's a song that opens the album magnificently and begins with a wonderful flute melody that provides the tunes for this beautiful, calm and melodic song. It has beautiful vocal harmonies and where the musical instrumentation is very accessible but with some complexity, which makes the song emotional, deepest and intense. The second track 'Dixie' written by Serge Fiori is the song that corresponds to the second season of the year, summer. This is the shortest song on the album and is probably the most simple and melodic of all. It's a very rhythmic song, very stirring and it has also fantastic solos, especially clarinet and piano. This is a song that encourages us to sing, dance and clap our hands. It's another incredible song on the album. The third track 'Depuis L'Automne' written by Serge Fiori and Michel Normandeau is the song that corresponds to the third season of the year, autumn. It's the second lengthiest song on the album and is also my second favourite song too. This is a song that starts slowly and that grows gradually and finally, in the end, it reaches a very intense climax. Once more the vocal harmonies are so perfect that definitely contribute to the final result of an absolutely perfect song. It's important to note the great use of the mellotron on this song, which are wonderful for tron maniacs like me. The fourth song 'En Plein Face' written by Serge Fiori is the song that corresponds to the fourth season of the year, winter. It's the second shortest song of the album and corresponds perfectly with the spirit of this season of the year. It's a melancholic and sad song but it's also, at the same time so beautiful, which brings us some mixed feelings, which brings us tears to our eyes. The use of the accordion on the end of the song reminds me the typical sound of French and Argentinian music. The fifth and last track 'Histoires Sans Paroles' written by Serge Fiori is the song that corresponds to the fifth season of the year, if we needed a fifth season. It's divided into five parts, 'L'Isolement', 'L'Appel', 'La Rencontre', 'L'Union' and 'Le Grand Bal'. It's the lengthiest song on the album, the great magnus opus, the best song and it's my favourite song too. This is absolutely so fantastic and perfect that is very difficult to me write anything about it. It's a song absolutely magic where all the performances of the all instruments like mellotron, flute, guitars and vocal harmonies are completely perfect. Its music is so beautifully and celestial that, if there is a God, He is here on this song. This is the perfect song to end this incredible, beautiful and amazing album.

Conclusion: 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison' is the kind of progressive album, obscure and missed by most of the people and only known by experts like us. It's one of those pearls like 'Hybris' and 'Epilog' of Anglagard, 'Depois Do Fim' of Bacamarte, 'Unfolded Like Staircase' of Discipline and 'Onde, Quando, Como, Porqu', Cantamos Pessoas Vivas' of Quarteto 1111, only to mention a few of them, that deserve to be discovered. 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquieme Saison' is without any doubt a great album, an absolute masterpiece and it's also, in my opinion, one of the best albums released in the 70's. It's almost an acoustic album, musically very beautiful, that sounds different and it's, in a certain way, a very special album in the progressive music scene of that time. If you like the sound of the acoustic albums mixed with some electric parts, especially mellotron, and you are searching for something that sounds beautiful and different, you shouldn't miss it for any reason. If the perfection and the beauty exist, they're here, surelly.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Harmonium En Tournée by HARMONIUM album cover Live, 1980
4.21 | 89 ratings

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Harmonium En Tournée
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Glimpse

4 stars En Tournée has developed a bit of a reputation with it being the only known testament of the legendary Quebec band Harmonium's live prowess. The album itself has a rather odd history, in that it was originally released but quickly withdrawn due to it not being approved by the band. It only recently saw the light of day again in 2002, as a rather reluctant response to the (at the time) recent emergence of bootlegged versions on CD. Even still it's not the easiest album to get a hold of, especially due to it not being available digitally.

The audio quality in this release is absolutely fantastic, and I wouldn't expect any less from a show professionally recorded by Radio-Canada. The show itself only covered the band's 3rd album, L'Heptade an album which I have been quite into at the time of writing this.

Its always interesting to see a live version of an album you've become so familiar with, as you never quite know what to expect. En Tournée provides a rather unique take on L'Heptade, while not as polished as the album itself, the variation presented in the performance is enough to keep anyone familiar with the source material interested. Most songs are faithful to the original recording with some slight variation. For example, the track Le Premier Ciel features a good deal of saxophone work not heard on the album version.

I would have wished that it had covered material from all three of their albums rather than just L'Heptade, but I should be grateful there is even as fantastic a live recording as this available at all. I'm feeling a strong four stars, maybe 4 1/2, it's pretty darn close to perfect and should definitely be owned by anyone who considers them-self a fan of Harmonium's work.

 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1236 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I recently came across a copy of this on vinyl in pristine condition at my favorite record store. I had purchased it on CD many years ago as a young progressive rock rookie and had been completely enamored by it then. So, at a price that suggested the store probably didn't know what they had, I picked up this album and excitedly gave it a spin for the first time in years.

My goodness, how I have missed this exquisite francophone masterwork.

Si on Avait besoin d'une Cinquième Saison is Harmonium's 2nd of three albums and while not their most ambitious, certainly their most accomplished. Translating to "If We Had Need of a Fifth Season" (just let that paint a picture for you for a second), the album is a concept work featuring five compositions, each representing a season, with the final track representing the imaginary Fifth Season. Like many classic symphonic works of the day, this album makes use of a myriad of music performed on a variety of instruments with effortless coalescence. The difference here is the unique flavor that this Montreal group is able to bring to the fray. Mandolin, grand pianos, mellotron and synthesizers, piccolo and zither harp along with the standard rock outfit of instruments paints each season with care, personality and precision while managing to keep the overall tone of the album upbeat to the point of being soothing.

Vert opens with a perfect introduction of how the music of the album is going to treat you, Soft flutes build with vocals that eventually become soaring. I also recommend translating the lyrics for this one because the music with the accompanying imagery of the opening of flowers "who are remembering their colors" is nothing short of spectacular. Dixie is unmistakable as Summer's track. It's jangling and fun guitars join with more soothing vocals that lead into a bouncy, intricate trade off in extended soloing between multiple instruments that join in conclusion to one of progressive rock's most upbeat songs. It's here that, in tandem with the first track, the band finishes working with musical themes presented on their debut album and wet the palate for the symphonic that is about to come.

Starting with Depuis L'Automne the band expands their sound into something lush and consuming. The delicate vocal intro builds into mellotron spiced harmonies with the rest of the players coming in gradually and organically building this soft and intricately structured suite. The lush sounds continue onto side two with En Pleine Face, a song that captures the essence of a cold winter while still maintaining the warm atmosphere that permeates on the album.

But it's Histoires Sans Paroles that really steals the show here. Representative of the fifth season, this 17-minute epic builds with the band's unique francophone flavor supported by flute and mellotron, mixing melancholy with trance-inducing instrumentals. Cinematic passages towards the end of the song providing a contrast between the otherwise utopian themes with something a little more realistic and dark that gives the album a thematic edge above and beyond "this is a happy album". It gives the audience somewhere to think and reflect, to be grateful for the happiness without pushing too far into depressing territory. It is a symphonic-instrumental masterpiece, reaching levels that contemporaries like Yes were able to attain.

I was shocked when I drifted past PA to check out my decade-old review of the album, only to discover that I never actually reviewed it. This is an absolutely essential piece of the progressive rock canon. If you see it, get it, especially if you can find it on vinyl. The artwork and the full gatefold are just as lush as the music within. Stream it if you want a taste before you dive in headlong, but by all means, give this album some of your time and attention. If symphonic prog is your thing and you don't already know this album from cover to cover, listen to this as soon as you can.

 Harmonium by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.63 | 216 ratings

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Harmonium
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Playing prog-folk with a strong emphasis on the folk (the prog side of their formula would become stronger on Les Cinq Saisons, and dominate L'Heptade), Harmonium's debut album is charmingly beautiful, with perhaps the best treat being Serge Fiori's exceptional lead vocals. True to the Quebecois pride that underpinned their work, the unit sings in French and looks as much to French folk music as to more North American folk rock sounds in constructing their particular blend. If you are mostly here for the prog in their sound, I would suggest leaving this until after you've sampled Les Cinq Saisons or L'Heptade, but if you are coming at them from a folk rock perspective I would say this is definitely worth a try.
 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1236 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by froggie471

3 stars Well, I just registered because I was so surprised to find "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison" reviewed on a progressive rock forum.

I was a teen when this album came out and I lived in QC for most of my life. Harmonium was a folk rock band, typical french canadian style. Nothing to do with Yes, Genesis, ELP, Emerson or even Rush. Now that I live in the States, I think Harmonium was a mix between Grateful Dead and Neil Young. I painted the album cover (double) with a friend of mine on panels near by the highschool library. It was an art project. I was a big Genesis fan (early stuff) but I've never asssociated Harmonium with progressive music. They were a band that had a different style on each of their album. The first album (Harmonium-Harmonium) is the best to my taste. It's really inspiring because of the guitars and melodies. "La cinquième saison" (we made a short name for it...after a while) was mostly appreciated to relax. That was not the album you would play during a party.

I don't mean to say that it's not a good album, not at all! But to "classify" music is sometimes tricky. French Canadians have different roots and a different culture. So I would say that the music was typical rock-folk from the 70's in QC. It's a bit like you can't say Jethro Tull was as "hard rock" as Led Zeppelin. Tull was a lot more acoustic even if Page was great with an acoustic guitar. Just not the same feel.

However, this is a good album. I would believe Harmonium lost a bit their "voice" when they did "L'Heptade". It was almost a mystic album. Lyrics were mostly repetitive poems and personaly, I just can't figure why they had such a shift in their style.

I never thought this album would be mentionned in an anglophone forum. It's indeed an album to discover but their first album is a must.......even if it's still not progressive rock.

Sorry for my bad English :)

 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1236 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by AndyJ

3 stars Harmonium's 'Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison' is my first journey into the music of this Canadian prog-folk band, and I've been left struggling for words to describe this one. I've only had this disc in my collection for a few weeks now, picking it up after looking through the prog-archives database for "something new". I'm really open to hearing any new music, so to see an album with many excellent ratings that I hadn't heard before I thought was certainly worth checking out.

At first I didn't really know what to think when listening to it. There are no drums, no electric guitar, none of the more 'traditional' elements of prog music that I'm so familiar with. I wasn't even sure if this was particularly progressive, to my ears it just sounded like beautiful French-Canadian folk music. But I kept listening, and enjoying what I was hearing. And then I reached the final track, 'Histoires Sans Paroles', and I was absolutely floored. Wow - where has this piece of music been all of my life! Such incredibly beautiful progressive music. It didn't need the electric guitar, or drums, or blazing fast keyboard solos which are so typical of the prog style I admire so much.

This is a progressive album which does things on its own terms. The musicality here is delightful, there is a wonderful interplay between the instruments. And its just so beautiful and happy (or hippy perhaps?). This record has been getting at least one play a day since I bought it and I'm discovering more and more with each listen. But here is my problem in assigning a rating to this album. I appreciate and enjoy the first 4 tracks, but in no way do they compare to the final track, the 17 minute epic 'Histories Sans Paroles'. I can't give this album 5-stars, and I'm not even sure that 4-stars would be a suitable rating. Really, this is somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, and I'll probably be a little bit cautious and give this one 3-stars, but this might change as I give this album more plays.

 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.35 | 1236 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars One of the true gems of the genre.

Prog never really took off in North America, at least not to the same level that it did in Europe. And I think that a big reason for that is because most North American prog bands didn't play North American prog, they just played music that sounded a lot like European prog. This is problematic, of course, because a group of suburban Ohioans or Iowa farm boys or west coast California hippies don't have the experience and cultural roots that make Genesis' delicate British rock or Pink Floyd's melancholy English musings resonate so clearly on the world stage. As a result, most North American came out (and still comes out) sounding derivative and lacking. But what Harmonium creates on this album does not succumb to that fate; not in the slightest. What we have here is original, genuinely Canadian prog that speaks to the background and identity of the musicians who play it.

An allegorical work, Harmonium's pastoral second album is a musical journey through the passing of the seasons in Eastern Canada's heartland. Nostalgic, bucolic, human, are all words that come to mind describing the sound of the album. Acoustic guitar and soft keyboard textures delight the listener and the mood ranges from spry and lively in the spring and summer to autumn's longing to fantastical dreamscapes in the fictional "Fifth Season", represented by "Histoires Sans Paroles". The album is really flawless, a true work of art.

A must listen not just for prog fans, but for all music fans.

 Harmonium En Tournée by HARMONIUM album cover Live, 1980
4.21 | 89 ratings

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Harmonium En Tournée
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars There are bands that supposedly made, or even makes, albums of the most extraordinary quality, bands that one (i.e. I) know more by name than by musical strengths. Harmonium is one of those. Their second album ranks as one of the finest among symphonic prog. It must be said that I have not spent alot of time examining that record but sure, it is sort of amazing. However, I would like to push for another of theirs.

Live albums are, for the most part, uninteresting or unnecessary. At least that is my personal opinion. Then it happens, a live album comes across your path that really gives you something just a little extra. Harmonium's "En tournée" is one of those examples.

Atmospheric. That is the word that most frequently spring to mind. Atmospheric, rich and varied. See, now there's three words and I do feel that each one of them fits like any glove bought directly from the most merited glovemakers shop. The opening track, setting "Introduction" apart, is one hell of a way to start. Seeing that this live album is made up of the entire "L'heptade", it may be no wonder that "En tournée" starts off just there, with "Comme un fou" but rather it puts the finger on just how amazing a track it is. Especially in a live environment. Everything keeps going after that. "L'exil" is obviously brilliant, as is "Lumiere de vie" or "Comme un sage".

The music is a weird but excellent blend of everything french and beyond. Just as with any band from any country, the music of Harmonium is very much of it's origins. Apart from the symphonic prog rock (which in itself is a vast ocean of sounds and textures, depending on your origin) there are chansons, folk and just about anything that in the musical field makes you think of France or the french speaking Canadian territories, from where Harmonium hails. It may be hard to digest at first, if you're squemish or particular, but I find that after a while it all falls in place. The result is a soundscape impossible to evade, if you were thinking of doing so. It really is spectacular.

The conclusion, then, is that "En tournée" is an album of extraordinary music. The grandest of epics, the most beautiful and haunting melodies and an atmosphere you can touch and feel in the very fibres of the soul. It is sort of sombre but never depressing. Though varied it sometimes seems an album made for reflection and soulsearching. Lovely!

Apart from the brilliance displayed, it came out in a time when progressive music was fighting for it's life and, better still, recorded in 1977, the year when punk rock (some say) brought havoc to the lands of Prog. A live album is never essential in my book but this is probably as close as it will ever get.

Four shining stars and two thumbs up.

 L'Heptade by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.09 | 304 ratings

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L'Heptade
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by admireArt
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Stepping away from their previous "masterpiece", consciously, they also challenge that album's followers.

Maybe it could be the "less serious" composition style , or that it uses resources not very "symphonic", or the close to "pop" musical passages, or maybe just the mere fact that it steps away, in more than one way off, their "famous" last project?

To be honest, I think that, in that "stepping away" effort, they discover some new tendencies and routes, that maybe could have remained unexplored otherwise. Therefore, in this particular case of Harmonium's "L'Heptade", the "symphonic" tagging, sells it short. In the "understanding" that this work is closer to the "eclectic" or "crossover" (even Jazz) musical composition manners of song writing and expression, will make it easier, for new audiophiles, to enjoy. And also, will "free" the band of sticking to previous "fames" and days, expectations.

Now! Of course that is not exactly all this work has to offer. Great contemporary and "old school" symphonic structures. A balanced display of musical styles, that enhance the diverse electro/acoustic instrumentation and their respective "low profile" master musicianship. Daring as to Rock, tasteful as to know when to stop. All framed by un-pretentious, yet very inspired musical arrangements, that are austere but efficient. And of course it all sounds like Harmonium, and that still is a big thrill!!

****4 PA stars, for their guts and good results!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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