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


Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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2 stars 2.5 stars really.

This 22 October 2021 two albums by two memorable bands in the history of progressive rock were released: One is Dream Theater's "A View From The Top Of The World" and the other is this one. I was surprised and pleased to see that this album features guest musicians Ian Anderson (flute) and Steve Hackett (guitar). Unfortunately, almost nothing on this album has met my expectations. Much of the album lacks originality, and this is not to say that it is boring but there is simply nothing to highlight.

The opening track "Mondi Paralleli" is instrumental only and very energetic: a violin intro that seems to give birth to an epic movie scene but actually precedes an electric guitar riff with short and simple Hammond arrangements. From there, the album starts to decay into typical modern progressive melodies and harmonies corrupted by the dominance of the electric.

The end of the album is perhaps the most interesting with their short song "Transumanza" divided in 2 parts. At least the album closes with a "Le Orme"-style power and plucks that seem to belong to Dream Theater's golden age.

I wish I had more to say about this album, but I couldn't find anything really worthwhile.

Report this review (#2606902)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2021 | Review Permalink
RPI Team
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

Report this review (#2607077)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2021 | Review Permalink
3 stars During the years Classic Italian Prog legend PFM turned out to be a musical chameleon, from symphonic rock to jazz and pop, and that's exactly how PFM sounds on this new album (with guest musicians Steve Hackett and Ian Anderson in one track), as a musical chameleon, incredible, what a variety!

An exciting blend of classical (wonderful orchestrations) and Heavy Prog (swirling Hammond, flashy Minimoog and heavy guitar), in a sumptuous and dynamic atmosphere, but with a subtle tender piano conclusion in the instrumental Mondi Paralleli.

Dreamy with beautiful mellow work on violin and piano, topped with melancholical vocals in Umani Alieni.

AOR featuring a mid-tempo with rock guitar and a spectacular synthesizer solo in La Grande Corsa.

A funky bass, biting wah-wah guitar, and a heavy guitar solo in the end in Pecore Elettriche.

Pop meets rock with powerful vocals and a swinging rhythm in Mr. Non Lo So.

Another swinging rhythm, with wah-wah guitar and slap bass, in the instrumental Transumanza.

The final composition Transumanza Jam (instrumental) is at the level of the first track, very exciting and dynamic, from swirling Hammond organ and pitchbend driven Minimoog to heavy guitar, the interplay is awesome, to me it sound like late Seventies Al DiMeola, wow!

Apart from the first and final two compositions the music on this new PFM album (with Franz Di Cioccio and guest Flavio Premoli as the only original members) is not my cup of tea. And unfortunately the very talented violin player Lucio Fabbri has a pretty modest role on this album, I was lucky to witness a Dutch PFM gig with him, that was awesome.

P.s.: The 2-CD contains an Italian ? and an English version, I prefer the Italian one because the singer sounds more expressive in his native language.

Report this review (#2607309)
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2021 | Review Permalink

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