Harmonium: Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison (1975)
The Fifth Season
While Montreal was sleeping Spring slid into her bed slowly, thinking that large events always take place at night.Only upon awaking did the sleeping city realise that someone was dancing at her feet. To show that she could still stand on her own, Montreal started imitating these fascinating dance steps. Spring led the dance towards a mirror where Montreal saw her own reflection and was dismayed. Sleep had scarred her face. She also realised that she had slept in borrowed, tattered clothing . Hers had probably been burned. She decided to frolic in the nude for the rest of the morning. The few people who still cared for her watched in slient consternation.
While Montreal danced, she brought with her a great fare. She was reminded that it was her forefathers' birthday. She invited everyone into her ancestral home. She was particularly charming on this evening, full of warmth and caring. Everyone fought to be near her warmth. Montreal was inebriated and men fought over her.She was so pleased at the attention that she danced for them while Summer watched and cried in silence.
While Montreal celebrated, Autumn crept in through the back door and turned out all the lights.Strangely diguised people, donning bizarre masks took advantage of the situation to rape Montreal while her friends were unaware, lost in their own drunken stupors. Her dress was torn from her body as she was violated. After the ordeal, she was dressed up in old rags and her face was scarred using a broken bottle. Unable to contain herself, she screamed in silence.
She struggled to lift herself up but her battered body betrayed her will.Not fully understanding what had happened to her, she started hallucinating and drifted into a coma.
While Montreal lay in a catatonic state, Winter took hold of her. Lost in her coma she reached a state resembling madness and freely and unabashedly recreated her world.Lost in delerium, she spoke of a Fifth Season.It was wonderful.In between sighs of satisfaction, she wished everyone this same fate, realising that a person who has reached madness can never be harmed again.
While Montreal was sleeping, Spring slid into her bed....
- Serge Fiori, February 1975-(translated from French by the reviewer)
Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison ,
'If a fifth season were necessary', may be the single greatest progressive rock record ever to come from Quebec. By 1975 Harmonium had already established themselves in Quebec as THE premiere musical act. Their self-titled debut disc had already produced political and cultural anthems which are still held near and dear to the Quebecois heart 30 years later. It would have been easy for Serge Fiori and Co. to remain in this vein and assure themselves continued success. But these were the 1970's and rock was about exploration, change, and improvement.
Broken down into 5 tracks, representing the 4 seasons and the imagined, utopian, fifth season, this record marks a departure for this band from the purely folk influenced music of their debut , and into the realms of progressive rock. Bands like Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Pink Floyd had all been making headway with the Quebecois youth and Harmonium decided to broaden their sound and incorporate many of the instruments they heard from these British bands. Mellotrons, mandolins, flutes,zither harps,accordeons, dulcimers, and electric pianos were added to the mix ; creating a lush pastoral sound which became the benchmark by which all future Quebecois progressive outfits would be measured.
VERT: Spring and the arrival of colours.
Vocal harmonizing and ethereal flutes dominate this track which overflows with life and hope, brought on the by the arrival of spring. Like spring, the track ends a little sooner than expected and gives way to summer.
DIXIE: The arrival of the summer heat.
Short and sweet , with a southern touch. Whimsical number which has a hoedown feel to it. Like summer it seems to end almost as quickly as it begins.
DEPUIS L'AUTOMNE: The arrival of autumn and the departure of many things.
Long , melancholic track which dwells on the permanence of change. As the days shorten and leaves dry up and fly away, we're often left to ponder about opportunities missed. As we bundle up and huddle for warmth in our homes, we seem to disconnect from each other and enter moments of quiet introspection.
EN PLEINE FACE: Winter and the departure of many people.
A haunting melody which has a cold detached feel to it. Fiori's voice sounds like a solitary cry in the face of a raging, freezing wind. The cold bleakness of winter has many people seeking a brief refuge of warmer climate leaving those left behind to feel even more isolated .
HISTOIRES SANS PAROLES: The fifth season
Spanning nearly the entire length of all the other tracks combined, this song tells the tale of the idealistic fifth season. Words are not necessary as all beings communicate through a general well-being. This track may be the one which caught the attention of progressive rock enthusiasts around the world and made the Harmonium name part of the prog vernacular. Filled with pastoral melodies, luxuriant arrangements, and ethereal musical passages; this track single-handedly defines the Quebecois progressive movement of the 1970's, and closes a superlative musical journey.
Harmonium were not done yet. This disc was merely a precursor to their magnum opus, the double disc L'Heptade which pushed the boundaries even further. The argument as to which of these records is the better has been debated on many progressive rock forums. In this reviewer's opinion, both are essential for anyone exploring the 1970's Quebecois music scene.