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Harmonium - L'Heptade CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

4.10 | 312 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Near the fag end of the great prog rock era of the 70s comes this superb album to remind us what it was all about.

L'Heptade is a triumph, arguably the best utilisation of symphonic and classical structures in a rock context. It represents a move away from the folk music of their debut and the prog-folk of their much-loved second album: with the addition of many musicians, most notably a drummer, their rather narrow musical palette is enlarged dramatically, and the result is an album that covers the entire gamut of symphonic progressive rock. The marriage of orchestra and rock band almost always ends in arguments and an early divorce, so it is with delight I can report there is not a single false step here.

With this album HARMONIUM achieve everything their career promised, and even before it was recorded the band had begun to break apart, making this their last studio album. Nevertheless, this is a stellar accomplishment. Compared to the pleasantness of 'Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquième Saison', 'L'Heptade' is by turns dramatic, melancholy, moody, ambient, rhythmic and gentle. Seven main songs are linked together by short orchestral segues, each of piercing beauty: the seven songs are themselves each memorable in their own right, but wrapped up in this package they make for irresistible listening. All the technical ability in the world is on show, but the listener hardly notices it as the compositions themselves capture the interest. Any fan of symphonic prog, or of classical music, who has not heard this is in for a rare treat.

This is an album with no standout song. It is not a showcase for such simple packaging. Instead, it is an eighty minute symphony best listened to from start to finish. As other reviewers have noted, it is a demanding listen, but I suspect the reason many report a decline in quality in the second half of the project is because their attention span has been exceeded. I certainly experienced diminishing returns on my first listen.

Because of its length this is only an occasional listen for me, but I believe this, rather than their previous album, is of true masterpiece status.

russellk | 5/5 |


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