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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 | 1541 ratings

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Magnum Vaeltaja
Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Contrary to most reviewers, I wouldn't say that this second classic PFM album is an improvement over their brilliant debut, "Storia Di Un Minuto". On the other hand, I actually consider it a slight dip in quality. That said, it's still a pretty darn phenomenal collection of music, and when you're sitting head and shoulders above most other bands of the era, a slight dip doesn't mean an awful lot.

From the get-go, it's clear that PFM has changed their sound on this follow-up album. While "Storia Di Un Minuto" plays off of an eclectic combination of pastoral charm, jazz and rock energy, and classical romanticism, which makes it a sort of well-rounded, quintessential RPI album, "Per Un Amico" is more focused, refined, and precise. This is made clear right in the opener, "Appena Un Po", which is an absolutely gorgeous, moving ballad that truly lives and breathes like many pieces of music strive to, but never quite manage. Layered mellotrons create a dim, cloudy haze that gives way to very classically-arranged harpsichord before evolving further into a wild and chaotic instrumental palette. Then, once the vocals enter, the song truly ascends into a higher emotional realm. The song's finale, with its ever-so-simple melody, played with an air of dignity and sophistication, is a truly haunting musical moment and is exactly the kind of thing that makes prog so awesome in the first place. In fact, I may go so far as to say that "Appena Un Po" is the single best song in the entire PFM catalog, if not just for the last minute alone. "Generale" follows the opener with an abrupt change of pace, presenting a wild and jazzy feel and a scrambled mix of ideas. While very strange, it's a very exciting piece. The album's first side is then rounded out by the title track, which expands on the sort of elegant, overtly classical, and tastefully embellished, approach to composition that defines this album. In all, "Per Un Amico" boasts an all-too-rare perfect first side that's exciting, invigorating, and uniquely Italian.

The album's "dip" (and the reason why I gave it only 3 stars in my original review) comes in the form of its second side, which lies firmly in the realm of symphonic RPI. Unfortunately, when writing music with more delicate and careful arrangements, the ever-present danger of feeling lifeless and sterile can find itself creeping in. "Il Banchetto" avoids this quite well, but the more repetitive coda of "Geranio" can feel as though it drags on quite a bit, which is quite noticeable on an album so short in the first place. In general these two tracks are growers, but even though their subtleties become more apparent with multiple listens, they never quite match the sheer beauty of the musical triptych on side one. So, although not quite as good as "Storia Di Un Minuto", I'll still give "Per Un Amico" 5 stars, if not for "Appena Un Po" alone, which is a piece of music I cannot recommend strongly enough.

Magnum Vaeltaja | 5/5 |

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