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Harmonium Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison album cover
4.35 | 1432 ratings | 133 reviews | 54% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1975

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Vert (5:35)
2. Dixie (3:26)
3. Depuis l'automne (10:28)
4. En pleine face (4:51)
5. Histoires sans paroles (17:12) :
- L'isolement
- L'appel
- La rencontre
- L'union
- Le grand bal

Total Time 41:33

Line-up / Musicians

- Serge Fiori / 6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, concert flute, mandolin, zither harp, bass drum, cymbal, spoons, vocals
- Michel Normandeau / acoustic guitar, accordion, dulcimer, vocals
- Serge Locat / piano & electric piano, Mellotron, synthesizer
- Pierre Daigneault / concert & piccolo flutes, soprano saxophone, clarinet & bass clarinet, recorder
- Louis Valois / bass, electric piano, vocals

- Marie Bernard / ondes Martenot (3,4)
- Judi Richards / vocalisations (5)
- Fred Torak / co-arranger

Releases information

Also known as "Les cinq saisons"

Artwork: Louis-Pierre Bougie

LP Célébration - CEL 1900 (1975, Canada)
LP Gamma - 68.517 / 190031 (1977, France)
LP Polydor - 833 990-1 (1991, Canada)
CD Polydor - 833 990-2 (1991, Canada)
CD Polydor - 833 990-2 (1991, France)
MC Polydor - 833 990-4 (1991, Canada)
CD Polydor - P2 33990 (1993, Canada)
LP Classic Reissues - CRLP 002 (2010, Canada)
LP Polydor - 0253778133 (2014, Canada)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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HARMONIUM Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison ratings distribution

(1432 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(54%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (12%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

HARMONIUM Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
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

Review by loserboy
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).
Review by Steve Hegede
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!
Review by belz
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.

Review by 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.


Review by 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.

Review by Zitro
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+

Review by 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.

Review by 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.

Review by Prog-jester
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
Review by 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

Review by el böthy
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 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.

Review by Mellotron Storm
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.

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by Hercules
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.
Review by 1800iareyay
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

Review by Flucktrot
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.

Review by 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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
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.

Review by obiter
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....


Review by Menswear
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.

Review by Chicapah
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.

Review by russellk
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.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
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)

Review by rogerthat
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.
Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Gooner
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Negoba
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.

Review by 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

Review by 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.

Review by Einsetumadur
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.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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)

Review by fuxi
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.

Review by lor68
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!! )

Review by EatThatPhonebook
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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by stefro
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
Review by friso
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.

Review by progrules
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.

Review by Conor Fynes
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.

Review by colorofmoney91
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.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
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.

Review by Starhammer
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.

Review by Warthur
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Anthony H.
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.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Neu!mann
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.

Review by Wicket
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".

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

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.

Review by VianaProghead
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*)

Review by jamesbaldwin
4 stars I did not know this Canadian group of French language, in Italy it is almost unknown and I have never found it in any prog rankings.

Being a lover of folk, and prog of the golden age, I am very happy to have made this discovery through Progarchives. This symphonic folk album is delightful and enjoyable. But let's go in order.

1. Vert (5:35) Beautiful start with the flute and then with the phrasing of acoustic guitar and singing in French. Graceful, pleasant and flowing song but then over time Harmonium indulge too much in choirs with onomatopoeic sounds that make the piece a little evanescent until the end where the flutes return. Rating 7.5 / 8.

2. Dixie (3:26) Very retro music, from music hall, with swing accents, worthy of a movie soundtrack, very light and danceable. It is the weakest piece on the album. Rating 6.5.

3. Depuis l'automne (10:28) Mini suite that concludes the first side, it begins with a slow synth piece by Serge Locat, which serves as an intro for the voice and the usual acoustic guitar, followed by a piece with piano and choirs, then we listen to an excellent climax sung with passion. Soon after the synths piece returns this time accompanied by arpeggios on acoustic guitar. This instrumental interlude lasts up to 6 minutes and 50 seconds, when the acoustic guitar starts again, here with a rhythmic function, accompanied by choirs, perhaps too indulgent. After 8 and a half minutes the singing returns and we end up with the choir in crescendo. Rated 8+

Side B

4. En pleine face (4:51) It starts with the acoustic guitar and a very soft voice, worthy of Nick Drake. Melodically they could have inspired certain Fleetwood Mac songs. The almost new age tone is surprising. Towards the end there is a fine crescendo, essential for the success of the track which, otherwise, would be too limp. Eventually the usual na-na-na choruses and Michel Normandeau's accordion arrive. Rating 8.

5. Histoires sans paroles (17:12) : - L'isolement - L'appel - La rencontre - L'union - Le grand bal

As the title says, the lyrics are missing from this suite. It is a very inspired piece with beautiful phrasing from guitar (Serge Fiori) and flutes. At about 2 minutes there are some vocalizations (Judi Richards). The group manages to make the most with the melody: rhythmic progressions and slowdowns, changes of atmosphere until reaching the climax around 9 minutes, when the vocalizations arrive again. But overall more than a suite it is a musical "aria" with variations on the aquatic theme and atmospheric sounds that predict the new age. Towards the end there is a new climax with the flutes. Evocative pastoral track, masterpiece of the album. Rated 8.5

Total time 41:33

Symphonic folk album characterized by an ethereal, dreamy, almost new age mood where the melody is alternated with atmospheric moments. Basically the arrangements are built on a carpet of synths or other types of keyboards, acoustic guitar arpeggios and flutes. The vocals have a narrative function when they are sung by a single singer, and an evocative hypnotic function when there are choirs of onomatopoeic sounds. Very relaxing album, pleasant most of the time - but sometimes too evanescent.

Rated 8.5. Four stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars About a year ago, I was fresh on the Prog boat. Having just discovered the majority of progressive rock, I listened to one of the more famous Prog albums I could find: "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison." Quite frankly, I thought nothing of it and moved on with my listening. I completely for ... (read more)

Report this review (#2902396) | Posted by AJ Junior | Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a rough one to rate for me. There's so much to like. I like the genre too. But... I don't see this album as a masterpiece. Some of the shorter songs are too plain to make it that for me. Vert is a pleasant opener. It does the job of setting the stage for the album. I really like it. 8. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2846695) | Posted by WJA-K | Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison (If We Needed a Fifth Season) / Les Cinq Saisons (The Five Seasons) / HARMONIUM 󠀡󠀡 "Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison" (If A Fifth Season Was Needed) is the second album by Quebec-based Progressive Rock band Harmonium, formed in C ... (read more)

Report this review (#2575754) | Posted by Mspy1 | Friday, July 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I slept on this album for far too long. After playing it non stop I've looked for other albums like this and come up short, the pure celebratory joy this music emotes is nearly unmatched. I am not a French speaker, I do not understand a single word that is spoken in any of these songs, but I can ... (read more)

Report this review (#2278674) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Wednesday, November 6, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison is, by far, my favorite album of all time. There is not a boring second on this masterpiece. While Vert has always been my favorite song, it should be mentioned that every song is unique in one way or another. Vert is mesmerising and melancholy; Dixie is ... (read more)

Report this review (#2231932) | Posted by TheCrimsonPrince | Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 d ... (read more)

Report this review (#1587498) | Posted by froggie471 | Thursday, July 14, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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-arc ... (read more)

Report this review (#1433828) | Posted by AndyJ | Friday, July 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 beauti ... (read more)

Report this review (#989655) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, June 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#964257) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Thursday, May 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#866995) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Monday, November 26, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#743394) | Posted by geneyesontle | Monday, April 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 h ... (read more)

Report this review (#733617) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#588585) | Posted by Glimmung | Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 fol ... (read more)

Report this review (#576554) | Posted by AléxandrosDemos | Sunday, November 27, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 i ... (read more)

Report this review (#502734) | Posted by 40footwolf | Saturday, August 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#425308) | Posted by darkprinceofjazz | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 comp ... (read more)

Report this review (#346480) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, December 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#289843) | Posted by garla1lh | Saturday, July 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#284654) | Posted by herrkaiser | Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#273813) | Posted by Treasure | Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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