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Harmonium - Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison CD (album) cover




Prog Folk

4.35 | 1349 ratings

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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".

Wicket | 4/5 |


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