Harmonium was one of the most popular and important Québec bands ever, as will be reaffirmed by a major event at Metropolis in Montréal tomorrow. Group principals Serge Fiori and Louis Valois will launch the release of L'Heptade XL (as in 40th in Roman numerals), the remixed, remastered and enhanced version of the their now-legendary 1976 double album, L’Heptade.
To learn more, FYI contacted the new album’s executive producer, Mario Lefebvre, and Stephane Drolet of Sony Music Canada, the label behind the project.
The launch event will premiere a five-minute compilation of an upcoming Harmonium live concert DVD called Viens voir le paysage. This is a film of the group performing at Theatre Outremont in Montréal in 1977, and it will become publicly available on DVD on Nov. 18.
L'Heptade XL will be released on that date in five different configurations, CD, 2CD-DVD, DVD, vinyl black and vinyl blue, and super deluxe box set plus digital. "A previously unreleased song, "C'est dans le noir," will be available on the DVD version and "digitally only," informs Drolet.
Lefebvre adds, "The song was released in early September, the first by Harmonium in 40 years. It stayed on the #1 songs chart of iTunes for many days." He stresses that "everybody is thrilled, the band first and foremost, at the sound of L'Heptade XL." Serge Fiori and Louis Valois were responsible for the remixing.
Total sales of the original L'Heptade album "are closing in on 300,000, for all configurations," Drolet explains. The resonance of the album within Québec music is shown by the intense media interest in the new project. "The news drew a huge response, making the front pages of major papers and blogs," says Drolet. "The advance buzz is phenomenal and Tuesday's event will be gigantic," pledges Lefebvre.
Both Serge Fiori and Louis Valois are taking an active part in the promotion of the record, and both are part of a Q&A session at Tuesday's launch. Fiori has a reputation as something of a recluse, though he released a self-titled solo album two years ago that sold platinum.
This project is definitely close to the heart of Mario Lefebvre, as he explains. "I've been working with or close to them for 40 years. I was a journalist when the album was released in '76, and I even wrote a 5-star review in Pop Rock magazine! Then I was at Sony in 1990 when we released the album on CD and I was a consultant and executive producer for Sony in this re-release project."
Harmonium formed in 1972 qnd played their last concert at the Centre de la Nature in Laval, Québec, in late 1978. L'Heptade was their third and final studio album, following on from Harmonium (1974) and Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison (1975). A posthumous live album, Harmonium en tournée, came out in 1980.
In 2007, all three of Harmonium studio albums were named in Bob Mersereau's book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. In 2015, Rolling Stone listed Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison at number 36 on their best 50 progressive rock albums list and declared it the best progressive folk album.