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

PER UN AMICO

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.42 | 1099 ratings

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James Lee
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An amazing album, even among the many pioneering releases of 1972. I've always valued italian prog for its deceptively simple-seeming emotive and evocative power, and "Per Un Amico" is probably one of the best examples. PFM has an extremely tasteful blend of electric rock elements, acoustic and symphonic instrumentation and sparing synthesizer and mellotron accents detailing compositions of constantly evolving beauty. Whoever was producing all these crystal-clear recordings for the italian prog arists should have given lessons to Alan Parsons and the other "muddier is better" prog producers of the early 70s.

"Appena un po'" is a great opening piece- the antique tones of the guitar, spinetta and flute weave a pastoral tapestry, but the structure is completely modern. I can definitely hear some similarities with KING CRIMSON; the way the chorus hestitates and then surges into the following section- rooted in the guitar, mellotron and distorted bass- reminds me of songs like "Starless"; the wah lead and Cross-like violin on "Generale" definitely evoke passages from the "Starless and Bible Black" album. The latter song is a bit disjointed- all the sections are well done, and the more rocking passages are just as good as the more common lighter moods, but do they add up to a cohesive song? The title track continues the exquisite classical/ jazz influence, and ably shows the band's precision and instrumental prowess. The synth is much more prominent here, and sounds much less primitive than in many 1972 releases. "Il Banchetto" is full of beautiful, understated guitar and tinkling piano riffs- an exceptional track, starting with surprisingly accesible sounds but gently evolving into more challenging textures. Although superior in mood and composition, the song reminds me of ELP's "Take a Pebble"- for the pretty piano work, but also in the structure and development. "Geranio" takes many compositional risks, but holds together very well, at least until the end. The big crescendo in the middle is engaging, if somewhat premature...

I have very few complaints; sometimes the album is so comfortable to listen to that my mind wanders, but that could just be my slippery attention span. As part of the musical texture, the vocals blend well, but lack some distinctiveness. Then again, I'm a big fan of the more gritty and dramatic italian singers (LOCANDA DELLE FATE, ALUSA FALLAX) but I readily admit that Mussida complements the softer touch of much of the album. The vocal harmonies are one of the few places where the album can seem dated ("Geranio" does this from time to time). There's a symphonic beauty here that is echoed in the works of QUELLA VECCHIA LOCANDA, but also a subtle playful modernism that JETHRO TULL fans (or even Canterbury types) can sink their teeth into. Highly recommended!

James Lee | 4/5 |

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