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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - Per Un Amico CD (album) cover

PER UN AMICO

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.40 | 1489 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars After only ten months in 1972 after the January release of their debut "Storia Di Un Minuto," Italy's most revered progressive rock band PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (or PFM for us multisyllabic slackers) released their second outstanding release PER UN AMICO (For A Friend). While the big bang of progressive rock was only a few years old, it is astonishing how so many bands diversified their sounds and perfected them in such a short span of time. While King Crimson went more in the direction of jazz influenced rock with avant-garde composing techniques, Pink Floyd went the space rock direction, Jethro Tull into the progressive arenas of folk and others like Genesis opting for a more vocally led theatrical style, PFM whole heartedly went into the classical music direction and i have to say that although other bands like Yes and Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso would also incorporate a lot of classical ideas, no other band seemed quite as dedicated to a historical classical feel that married the best aspects of early 70s progressive rock so perfectly including rocking percussion, bass and guitars, gossamer flute and piccolo and even a touch of jazz-fusion with the violins and of course the huge palette of themes, complex arrangements and bursts of the energetic avant-garde with swaths of tempos and torrents of musical tones.

This masterpiece begins with a beautiful and instantly addictive Bach-esque Baroque melody on flute and piccolo by the master of his game Mauro Pagani. Once this little ear worm is properly lodged in your ear drums, the progressive rock kicks in with aggressive guitars, energetic percussion and spastic time signatures that obfuscates the leading melody but is clearly buried under the mix as the layers of complexity that build and evolve can suddenly drop reverting back to the recognizable piano melody. Whereas Italian prog artists rarely became popular outside of their homeland mostly due to their recalcitrance of adopting English for their lyrics, PFM found success around the whole continent of Europe with PER UN AMICO which attracted the attention of Greg Lake of ELP who would not only arrange PFM to be signed onto their label Manticore Records but were invited to go on tour with them. The result is that PFM were one of the few Rock Progressive Italiano bands to actually become known worldwide and universally revered as one of the most intricately complex and interesting bands to emerge from that scene.

PER UN AMICO is simply a perfect album. It has an uncanny balance of ingredients where every progressive idea under the early 70s sun is represented in perfect doses. The melodies develop but never become too sickening sweet, the avant-garde elements present themselves likewise and never outstay their welcome. Everything added to the worktable is careful sorted out as how to perfectly fit into the giant progressive puzzle and the respective members of this band are so utterly brilliant on their chosen instruments that they pull of the most jaw dropping musical acrobatics with ease not ever losing the pace of a sophisticated graceful poetic dance of sounds. Flavio Premoli's keyboard playing is amongst the best ever to grace any album that is in the rock world. His playing is every bit as sophisticated and complex as Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman and effortlessly changes styles, tempos, chromatic complexities and shades of sonic colors.

As with many Italian prog bands, PFM was very adept at mastering the pastural acoustic parts with the harder rocking segments and the passionate vocals of Franco Mussida perfectly fit in with the music at hand. Mauro Pagani's ethereal flutes and piccolo runs are the perfect contradicting sound effect for the heavy distorted guitars, steady rock percussion and spastic organ runs often soaked with layers of Mellotron, tubular bells and also with the occasional unfretted fingerboard abuse of the violin. The rhythm section that incorporates Franz Di Cioccio's outstanding drumming abilities with Girogio Piazza's bass skills alternates daring musical twists and turns that are perfectly pulled off. Just listen to the second track "Generale" and be floored by how tight this band is creating simultaneously some of the most chaotic- while-being-mathematical and gentle-in-the-midst-of-turbulence music i've ever heard. PFM took the ideas of their debut and just went to town! PER UN AMICO is a testament to some of the most bold and adventurous early 70s prog that has ever been laid down to tape all the while being highly addictively accessible. This is one of those albums that i never tire of and has deservingly become one of the most beloved examples of progressive rock's early years. Mega-masterpiece to the max.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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