In deference to most overlooked acts from the past, Harmonium doesn’t even have the sob story of poor distribution and in fighting to topple them from their horse. In fact, if you’re from Canada the band may even be a household name. Elsewhere though, its not necessarily on your parents’ shelf, due in large part to the Quebecois band’s delivery in their native French. The band had three very worthwhile albums to their name, the most intriguing of which is their sophomore LP, Si on Avait Besoin D’une Cinquième Saison, translating to “If We Needed A Fifth Season.” The album wraps a suite of songs around the transition of the seasons and adds a fifth, epic closer for their imaginary “fifth” season.
The band began as a small guitar trio and hit early on with their song “Por Un Instant” in Canada. They migrate towards a much more progressive sound on this second LP, adding in swells of strings and stretching the lengths of songs to ambitious lengths over the course of the album’s five tracks. They’d go on to record a follow-up which fully embraced the prog aesthetic, growing into a true rock band and finally adding in drums. The absence of drums makes this one all the more interesting, though. It’s steeped in acoustic guitar, mellotron and flute; a true pastoral prog album if there ever was one.
After their third album, L’Heptad, with even core member Michel Normandeau bowing out during its recording, they decided that they’d said all they needed to say and went their separate ways, with minimal animosity. They even played on each others’ solo albums in the coming years. This one though, stands as a gorgeous bit of soft psych and prog for those who want to indulge in the hazy Canadian sunshine. Sadly its not been reissued on vinyl proper, but its pretty easy to find a second hand copy, so maybe its for the best. There are, however CD and digital versions that capture the band’s romp through the mellow meadow.
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