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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 | 1116 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After making such a great entry with their stunning debut album 'Storia di un Minuto', the amazing Italian quintet Premiata Forneria Marconi proved that they could do even better with their second effort "Per un Amico", which, after more than 30 years from its release, remains as one of the most definite masterpieces in Italian prog history. Their prog sound, based on a typically Mediterranean melodic sensitiveness exquisitely seasoned with influences from early KC and Genesis, remains quite the same, but it is obvious that the band has progressed as an ensemble and that the cleverness of the arrangements to shape their musical ideas has been improved: to put it in other words, they have become more confident performers and better writers. The opener 'Appena Un Po'' starts with a mesmeric, dreamy intro with a featured mellotron layers that expands as a vision of a distant horizon; then comes a delicate Baroque-styled motif led by the classical guitar - soon joined by flute and spinet -, then followed by a brief yet effective rocky interlude (great interplay between electric guitar and violin); finally arriving to the main section, which alternates introspective passages and majestic ones. The splendid chord progression a-la-Beethoven that comes at the ends is the properly fantastic epilogue to an outstanding song. But none of the remaining repertoire gets overshadowed by this gem. On the contrary, "Per un Amico" is, strictly speaking, a treasure chest in which each and every item is a gem that shines with a brightness of their own. The jazz-rock oriented spirit of 'Generale!' is translated into an overtly complex motif and a catchy rock variation; the joyful martial interlude is simply delicious, and so is the reprise of the opening motif. The namesake track also contains some jazzy hints, but this time, in a more folkish context: maestrissimo Mauro Pagani shows his finesse on both violin and flute to a 100 % level, but again. he does so all the time! It is true that PFM are not only a most excellent ensemble: but it is also undisputed that each individual element is pure virtuoso genius. That being said, Pagani and drummer DiCioccio are, IMHO, the most notable musicians in the fold, or at least, the ones who show their prowess and inventiveness more often. But, of course, it is Mussida's versatile efficiency (equally distributed on both his electric and acoustic guitar interventions) and Premoli's lucid orchestral vision on his use of multiple keyboards that provide the main focus for PFM's overall sound. Now, back to the repertoire. The vinyl's B-side starts with 'Il Banchetto', another folkish spirited composition that may somewhat remind us of the most bucolic side of JT, until the multi-part interlude arrives and takes the listener to unsuspected places. The 6/8 synth-and-mellotron driven interlude built on a 12-string guitar sequence, the extravagant synth fanfare and the piano solo follow one another as a surrealistic pastiche, until the folkish first motif is retaken and reprised until the song's conclusion. When the song is over, you don't know how to explain what happened, who the hell came up with the notion of putting all these diverse ideas together in one song. but it worked, it worked tremendously well (not even Peter Sinfield dared change a bit of it for the first English PFM album), like the most bizarre scenes in a Fellini movie. The closure 'Geranio' is another monster track, perhaps the most similar to the stuff comprised in the debut album. The classical guitar and the flute marry together with the keyboard serving as a master of ceremonies during the opening Renaissance-like motif. The up-tempo interlude gets things in a sort of compromise between old fashioned jazz and folk: the interlude is finished with a carnival motif, which introduces the first motif's reprise. The sinister, almost martial instrumental litany seems to conjure images of myriads of splendorous flowers bursting out from the soil of some inscrutable paradise - once again, I think of Fellini from the very moment this section kicks off headlong into its fade-out. Overall balance: an absolute masterpiece.

(Review dedicated to my friend Giorgio Murillo).

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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