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Harmonium - Harmonium CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.64 | 219 ratings

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5 stars One of the most beautiful, joyous and perfect albums ever. I first experienced "5ieme Saison" which kept me occupied for a couple months, several plays per day, and it was literally the only music I listened to in that period. A few weeks after the bliss subsided, I ordered this album, and "L'Heptade". I have yet to fully digest Heptade at this point (Dec 30 '06) but I've been giving alot of listening time to the debut for a few weeks.

All of the best elements from "..Saison" are present here, the incredible vocal harmonies that no other band has achieved (light years ahead of Yes) the amazing acoustic guitar arrangements throughout the whole album, unbelievable melodies that send you into unevitable spasms of joy, the beautifully emotional voice of Serge Fiori, who has a great talent to conform to various styles and moods, but he mostly sings in a lower voice, he doesn't go all out like he does on "L'Heptade" or "Depuis le Autmn". The fact that the vocals are in french is a aspect of the album I wouldn't even think of changing. It's rare for me to hear music in other languages that I like, and then I see the vocals as another instrument. This works particularly well here, because the words flow so perfectly, and the melodies present in Serges vocals are excellent.

Another difference from this album and "Saison" are the presence of drums. But if you listened to the albums back to back without knowing, you would not realize there was anything missing in the rhythm section. The acoustic guitars on both albums are ever present, and the way they use them harmonically and cooperatively, I wish more bands would adapt this sort of style, it makes the music more dreamy and personal (Saison is just so "right" in this sense)

In terms of compositional talent, this album is not far behind it's succesor, but it lacks the epic quality of peices like "Depuis" and "Histoires sans Paroles". It's an album with a bunch of excellently written songs with outstanding performances, but it's more than that. Listen to "Vielles courroies" and you realize just how in tune they are with themselves musically, and they are really doing what they want to. There's absolutely no sense of tension or force (as with many other bands that shine on their debuts).

Beautiful, perfect in what they were trying to achieve, essential listening for fans of "Saison" and folk music. Give their music a chance before putting it off as "PBS informercial" music, and I assure you it will be a extremely rewarding as it was (and is) for me. Add another half star to that rating.

1/28/07 edit - Sorry, after more listens, I can't give this album less than 5 stars. Nearly as good as Cinq Saisons.

OGTL | 5/5 |


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