Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
So hard to believe how ambitious they became in three albums
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 04/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To see how far Harmonium went in just three albums is like imagining Yes starting with their self-entitled 1969 debut, and two albums, and two years later coming up with Tales From Topographic Oceans (of course in reality it was six albums, minus the live Yessongs, in four years). Harmonium's self-entitled 1974 debut was largely a straight-up folk album, earning them success in Quebec. The single "100.000 Raisons" (included on the CD reissue of their debut) was a hit. Next comes Les Cinq Saisons (1975). The folk influences of their debut were still there, but now with extended compositions that often rely heavily on the Mellotron (no doubt helped by the inclusion of newcomer Serge Locat), earning them respect in the prog rock community (while their debut more appeals to the folk and folk rock crowd).
Now comes L'Heptade, released late in 1976 on CBS. The band had just switched from Célébration since that label went under (CBS rightfully realized that Harmonium were too good to go under thanks to a label going under, like what happened to another group, the wonderful Opus 5). Michel Normandeau had left the band halfway in the making of the album, to be replaced by Robert Stanley. Leader Serge Fiori and Louis Valois are still here. They now included orchestrations, courtesy of Neil Chotem (who was born in 1920, a good generation older than the band, unsurprisingly his background was classical). Thanks to the orchestrations, the Mellotron usage had dropped considerably. I really have to say the orchestra is more appealing than the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed. This album is not a continuation of Les Cinq Saisons. There are now inclusions of electric instruments (electric guitar, Moog synthesizers), plus an inclusion of a full time drummer (Les Cinq Saisons had no drummer, and their debut had a guest on drums on some of the cuts). As close as to the old sound would be "Comme un Fou". The acoustic sound is still there, and you can detect some of that old folk sound, but you also noticed lots of new things. The orchestra is often there to make the transition to the next piece, much as Days of Future Passed did. One other comparison to Days of Future Passed would be the opening cut, "Prologue", here Neil Chotem will present us some themes you'll later hear on the album, much like Peter Knight did for "The Day Begins" on Days of Future Passed. "Le Première Ciel" is a great highlight for me, showing the more electric side of the band, the band really gets lively at the end part with the Moog solo. "L'exil" is a more somber piece that simply blows me away. The orchestrations certainly helped too. "Le Corridor" is a really mellow piece dominated by electric piano, female vocals, and what sounds like a phased Mellotron (it almost sounds like a string synth, although the band did use any on this album). "Lumières de Vie" is probably the most difficult piece to get into. It starts off largely with piano, but then eventually the acoustic guitar and Serge Fiori's voice kicks in. Eventually there's an instrumental passage that ends this piece. "Comme un Sage" really has some great vocal arrangements, and even if a lot of this piece is quite slow, there's some great themes that will stick in your head. And of course, the album ends with "Épilogue" which is some orchestration from Neil Chotem.
This album isn't easy to get into, as there are some really slow moments that really need your patience. But after a few listens I understand why this is regarded as one of Quebec's finest, right there with Pollen, Et Cetera, Morse Code, Sloche, and the likes. And you also want to try the live version of L'Heptade, called En Tournée, recorded in 1977, released in 1980, which is a fantastic version of the album, with its own twists as not to be a "play it just like the original" (and since Neil Chotem wasn't on that album, the band proved they can float by on that album without his orchestrations)."
Best album ever made in Quebec
S. Sliger | Quebec | 12/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First thing, it's incredible how Harmonium changed in a musical state of mind in only two years. Compare Harminum and L'Heptade just for fun. It dosen't even look like this is the same band. Now, here is my favorite album over everything that ever came out of Quebec. In fact, it's even my favorite albums over everything I have ever heard. Every song on this album is just wonderful. From the beginning all the way through the end of the album, I don't think there is any weak point, and lyrics are just as wonderful as the music. Just think about this, Harmonium were making sold-out shows all over Canada and on the west coast of the United States, even if nobody understood the lyrics. The lyrics could even be real crap and this album would stay one of the best progressive albums of all time. This is great on every level, the lyrics, the musical arrangements, the instrumentalisation with the orchestra. This band is one of the things that makes me really proud of being from Quebec. So, if your progressive collection don't include this wonderful album, you have to go buy it the sooner the possible."