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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) - I Dreamed of Electric Sheep / Ho sognato pecore elettriche CD (album) cover

I DREAMED OF ELECTRIC SHEEP / HO SOGNATO PECORE ELETTRICHE

Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

3.14 | 40 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

zeuhl1
3 stars It was just random luck that I ran across the information that this album came out...yesterday? Two days ago? Quickly found a full version online, and here's a rough sketch review, hopefully enough to answer the question-should I buy it?

The short answer is, if you are a PFM fan, yes.

If you are a lapsed PFM fan like many of their original fans are, you likely dropped out after Jet Lag in 1977. Some might have hung in there for Passpartu and Suonare Suonare (1978 and 1980 respectively). Relatively few stayed as the band transitioned from prog giants to a much simpler pop band with prog flourishes. Each successive album brought diminishing returns as the 80's transitioned to the 90's. 2017's uneven Emotional Tattoos brought us the first studio album proper in nearly two decades.

Which brings us to 2021. I had the good fortune of seeing PFM on the 2019 tour in Italy, and they were devastatingly powerful onstage as they ran through their hits, obscurities and classic pieces. So I knew there was a good chance this might be a decent album. New-ish guitarist Marco Sfogli crackles with energy, and brings a metal edge and quicker tempos to the band. Stalwarts Patrick Djivas and Lucio 'Violino' Fabbri have been in the band for four decades, and with Franz DiCoccio, drummer and leader of the band, form a core that is still very powerful onstage. DiCoccio has said in interviews that this release, I Dreamed of Electric Sheep (based on Blade Runner) was a tribute the times of Covid. Where socializing became taboo and bands were forced to record remotely in far flung studios miles from each other band member. This album is the result.

The album is released as a duplicate double CD or double LP on vinyl, giving the listener a choice of the English version or the Italian version. (Older fans should go straight to the Italian version while newer fans might want to start with the English version to get a handle on the storyline). Differences are minimal-most of the songs come off better in the written Italian language, far more mellifluous, syncopated and syntax precise than the English translation. Vocalist DiCoccio is clearly more comfortable in his native tongue.

The opener Worlds Beyond starts with classical flourishes that lead to a Dream Theater tinged metal prog instrumental. Adrenaline Oasis has a not so inspiring start, but soon brings some classic PFM energy and melodies to the proceedings. City Life starts with an ominous spoken word intro before dropping into a song that would not be uncomfortable on Starcastle's Citadel. Most of side one, or the first 20 minutes of the 40 minute album vary between high energy pop/prog/metal and Suonare Suonare era jaunty PFM pop.

The second side of the album is stronger than the first side, and the song featuring Steve Hackett and Ian Anderson (both recognizable in distinctive sounds) is one of the highlights. The final three songs (the last ten minutes) are the pieces that will bring out the most smiles from long time PFM fans. The elegiac Kindred Souls builds slowly in an Irish inflected mode, propelled by the instantly recognizable guitar of Hackett and flute flourishes from Anderson. Some minimoog work from Flavio Premoli cuts through the 90's sounding digital synth work. The final instrumental jam will perhaps be the highlight for many, a real blast of genuine instrumental high energy classic era PFM showing why they were one of the best bands on the planet in their heyday. (Listen closely and you can hear DiCoccio put his drumsticks down at the end of the jam to end the album)

Overall the album is a cool concept album of the covid era, albeit hampered by an overly digital feeling, with a little too much generic synth flowing throughout. Think transitional Marillion, some Dream Theater, Suonare Suonare era PFM and a bit of real classic PFM all swirled together. If that sounds appealing, definitely check this out.

3 stars

zeuhl1 | 3/5 |

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