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


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)


Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.42 | 1529 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
2 stars A review 6 months in the making...

When I started to settle on planet PA, I thought it would be a good idea to go through the site's favourite titles and challenge my taste a bit. After all, a new scope and perspective would do me good after being stuck in barren metal lands for the last couple of years. Per Un Amico was my first bite of RPI and it left me in complete disbelief. That was easily the worst prog I had heard in ages.

Highly disappointed, I retreated back to my black dungeon, bawling curses at the appalling taste of Prog Archives and writing a flaming first draft of this review. I didn't post it as I avoid reviewing music I don't understand. It contained nice play of words though, such as 'Retarded Prog Indigestion' and similar curses. Too bad I deleted it!

And so on went my life, happy and pretty much RPI-less. If it wasn't for Snobb's persistent inquiries when I would do my first RPI review, I would have given up on it entirely (thanks mate!). Based on his suggestion I picked up some Area albums and a bit later also Banco. I was sold on the spot, this is what I wanted to discover! Since then I've dabbed my toes further and further into the Mediterranean sea and have now come to a point where I can't see the shore anymore. This scene is huge!

As can be deducted from the rating, it has grown on me, but some of my initial criticisms still stand. In order to try and place this particular album in a context, I chose to review it together with a similar, but in my ears more accomplished album, Le Orme's Uomo Di Pezza.

Being new to the RPI scene, I hear this music for the first time with 2009/2010 ears. A first logical question is whether this almost 40 year old album has withstood the test of time successfully. I must say that, contrary to the other prominent RPI bands, Per Un Amico hasn't aged well at all to my ears. Particularly due to the primitive synths and the faint mellow vocals. Even though melancholic keys prevail, there's lightness in their sound that makes everything very sweet, too sweet and innocent really. I regularly feel tempted to play this at half speed to get a bit more oomph from the vocals. You might denote this argumentation to merely a matter of taste, but this is the second PFM album I review and I have praised the previous one, Storia Di Un Minuto, for its better cohesion and less ELP-indebted style.

Anyway, there's a second point of criticism and it is with the songwriting. While mostly excellent it isn't consistent throughout. Appena Un Po and Geranio and to a lesser extent Per Un Amico are simply marvellous. But on a song like Il Banchetto, PFM adds a folksy pop flavour in the first half, and some experimentation in the second half. None of both can impress me much really. Especially the pointless keyboard folly halfway in doesn't seem to come natural to PFM. It doesn't sound arty but artificial and disjointed. Their contemporaries Banco and Area got away much more successfully with such wild experimentations. Still this piece has some lovely sections, like the instrumental bit between minute 2 and 4 and also the piano near the end. The album ends as great as it began. Geranio is a strong composition, featuring lovely soft vocals and a fine dramatic ending.

Depending on your background this might indeed be a recommended start, but it might also be the exact opposite as it turned out for me. Anyway, if all songs had been on the same level as the opening and closing tracks, I would probably have opted for 4 or even 5 stars. Maybe I might have loved this album more if I had come into RPI earlier. 3.5 stars for now.

Bonnek | 2/5 |


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