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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM)

Rock Progressivo Italiano

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Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) L'Isola Di Niente album cover
4.20 | 964 ratings | 50 reviews | 41% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1974

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. L'Isola di Niente (10:42)
2. Is My Face On Straight (6:38)
3. La Luna Nuova (6:21)
4. Dolcissima Maria (4:01)
5. Via Lumiere (7:21)

Total Time: 35:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Franco Mussida / guitars, lead vocals
- Flavio Premoli / keyboards, lead vocals
- Mauro Pagani / violin, flute, vocals
- Jan Patrick Djivas / bass, vocals
- Franz Di Cioccio / drums, percussion, vocals

- Accademia Paolina Da Milano / chorus
- Claudio Fabi / choir conductor, co-arranger & co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Terry Gough

LP Numero Uno - DZSLN 55666 (1974, Italy)

CD RCA ‎- ND 71782 (1989, Europe)
CD BMG ‎- 74321 896062 (2001, Italy) 24-bit remaster

Numerous LP and CD reissues

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) L'Isola Di Niente ratings distribution

(964 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(41%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars The Isle Of Nothing is PFM's third album, still released on RCA by the almost original (there is the new bassist with a Belgian name) line-up and the last of the classic Italian releases, the following ones being marketed for worldwide audiences (names like Chocolate Kings etc.), but already in this album, we have a track sung (passably) in English. While the artwork is lesss naïve than the PUA artwork, it's nevertheless not my idea of the desert island, which is just as well, since this album is nowhere near that stupid list that all progheads love to make.

PFM has often been accused of being Genesis -inspired but throughout the three albums I know, I haven't detected that much of it, but much more ELP and to a lesser extent, Crimson. This is again true for LIDN as the opening almost 11-mins title track starts on semi-discordant choirs (overstaying their welcome) than a loud guitar and many other instruments take ober from the flute until the mellotron. Upon the return of these icy choirs (shortly this time), the track has taken an enormous sound, probably the loudest PFM were over their early career. The only English-sung track is my face on straight, (most likely talking of the masques we have to put on everyday to avoid troubles or questions) is not exactly my fave and the approximate vocals are not the only reason, but it's of BJH calibre(not necessarily a compliment) and is not a disgracze as one could fear., the stupid accordion being a "faute de gout" rather than a real flaw.

The flipside starts on The New Moon starts on violin and percussions and in a very classical manner, than veering in an ELP-like "rearranging the classics", unusually loudly as well, but overall the exercise has been done by Dutch bands many times over. The middle section rocks rather hard, but remains uninteresting to this writer; and in spite of the loudness, this track never fails to bore me. Needlessly complicated tracks and overly laden (too much going on) tend to be soporific for me. Sweetest Mary on the other hand is one of those really quiet tracks that are sleep-inducing after the boredom of the previous track. The soporific mood is carried over the intro of the finale Via Lumiere, until the song embarks on 200 MPH sections, alternating the quiet and loud passages, thus waking you up in a confusing moment.

I've only heard the English version (World Became World) of this album once, and although I find it less soporific than its Italian genitor, it might just be because of the added Settembre track (a SDUM track), but certainly not from the original tracks being translated. Outside the opening and closing tracks, I don't fid much to marvel over.

Review by loserboy
5 stars With perhaps one of the greatest introductions in progressive rock of all time, "L'isola di Niente" or what was later re-released in english as "The World Became The World", is clearly a grand album of epic proportions. In typical classic PFM fashion, "L'isola Niente" is loaded with great keyboard work and some amazing guitar and percussive moments. In my opinion "L'isola Di Niente" has some of PFM's strongest musical moments full of jazz/prog rock influences. With grand mellotron, synth and flute filled passages, it is PFM's emphasis on the use of vocals which makes "L'isola Di Niente" such an original album. This album moves from the dark grooving title to track to the soft caressing touch of Mauro Pagani vocals on the romantic track "Dolcissmima Maria". Overall this is an essential Italian progressive moment which you need to have in your collection.
Review by lor68
5 stars The magical intro of the title track, thanks to such a stunning chorus created by some mellotrons and, naturally, the fantastic song "La Luna Nuova", characterized by some special and complex guitar scales by Mussida and his terrific interplay with a special Mini-Moog, is alone well worth checking out; but don't forget also the sweetest ballad "Dolcissima Lumiere" and the catharsis of the last instrumental track "Via Lumiere", which is the tasteful conclusion of an unforgettable album, whose unique defect is as usual the production, unfortunately sometimes uneven; nevertheless the new re-mastered version earns a lot!!

Highly Recommended!!

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not in the level of "Per un Amico" or "Storia di un Minuto" but any early release by PFM is always good enough, incredible arrangements, impeccable vocals in Italian by Franco Mussida (in the language that were meant to be listened) and a band that has nothing to envy from the classic British monsters.

Much more calmed than the previous releases may be a bit boring for those who are not used to Italian Symphonic, but interesting for the ones that already love the special lyricism of Premiata Fornería Marconi

The incredible introduction of the title song "La Isola di Niente" (Nobody's Island) is reason enough to pay for this good album, the contrast between the chorale intro and the hard instrumentation is reminiscent of King Crimson but with a symphonic edge typical from the Italian progressive, a very complex epic that may be arid for people who don't understand Italian.

"Is My Face On Straight" is the second track and only one in English with lyrics by Pete Sinfield, sarcastic song that mentions themes as racism and elitism, very complex music with touches of Jazz, the problem is that the changes are too radical, loosing any logical sequence. Honestly a bit weird for my taste.

"La Luna Nuova" (The New Moon), starts as an hymn with a very beautiful keyboard section that goes in crescendo meanwhile flute and percussion join with some jazzy feeling, when the listener thinks the track has reached a calm point, everything starts again, a song that's always in advance as if chasing something that never completely reaches. The violin at the middle gives a special delicate taste and again the hymn and the chase start all over. One of my favorite songs in this album.

"Dolcissima Maria" (Sweetest Mary): I'm not a person that likes ballads, but in this case I make an exception, seems soft, calm and simple but it's extreme beauty and placidity has something that always makes me feel the world is Ok. The sweet flute and soft percussion section is one of the highest points of the whole the album. Still I'm not sure if the lyrics have religious connotations related with the Holy Virgin, because the text is so ambiguous that can work as a prayer or a pure love song.

The album ends with the Instrumental "La Via Lumiere" (Lumiere Street), the first question that comes to my mind when I listen this track is Who let Mahavishnu in? If I didn't knew Premoli is the keyboardist, could swear Ian Hammer took his place, around the middle of the song PFM retakes the classic Italian sound to prepare the ending that gently fades in the typical symphonic mood.

Great album but not recommended for newbies, maybe a bit boring for not prepared ears, if you're not a fan go for "Storia di un Minuto", "Per Un Amico" or even "Photos of Ghosts" I'm sure after listening those you'll enjoy La Isola di Niente much more.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After two stunning albums, the Italian prog pioneering guys of Premiata Forneria Marconi managed to top themselves even further with their maximum masterpiece, 'L'Isola di Niente': basically, what they did here was, while preserving their own melodic leaning enriched with crytalline acoustic sensibility, expand their sonic boundaries by inserting some rough Crimsonian touches (specially on track 1), and more importantly, open up the gates to the influence of jazz fusion (new bassist Djivas was a crucial item on this), something they would pursue in a more focused manner in their following efforts... but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. As I've stated before, I consider this album as their top achievement. The opening title track starts with a sombre, mysterious choral arrangement that announces something like impending doom, and that's exactly what happens when the distorted guitar riffs, together with the furious complement of a fiery organ and a more fiery electric violin, display a powerful wall of sound solidly supported by DiCiccio and Djivas. It won't take long before a softer interlude appears in order to pave the way for the beautiful pastoral section that feautres classical guitar, piano, mellotron, and a flute duet that resembles the sound of birds singing at early morning; then, a jazzy electric section will set the stage for the re-entry of the first rocky section. The whole thing ends with a Frippian guitar solo displayed upon a sequence of classical guitar arpeggios. Stunning! Perhaps the weirdest thing in the whole PFM repertoire. Track 2 is pitifully sung in English, but still works effectively as a catchy, funny jazz oriented number - a special mention to the playful accordion solo at the end. 'La Luna Nuova' brings us back to the spirit of 'Per un Amico', but with the extra dose of energy exhibited all through this album, with Premoli's keyboards being specially featured here: I do consider this piece as archetypical PFM, the perfect individual sample for the newbie. 'Dolcissima Maria' is the most beautiful ballad written by the band, a romantic theme that serves as a proper oasis of emotional calm between the amazing colourfulness of the previous track, and the jazzy tour-de-force 'Via Lumiere'. The latter features a Pagani showing his maddest side alternately on electric violin and flute: Djivas' intro bass solo is quite effective, and DiCioccio's drumming is also a display of out-of-this-world precision and amazing energy. The grand finale is a church-like hymn, where the organ fills the leading role, complemented by dissonant touches on guitar and violin, as well as a choral ensemble performed by the PFM fivesome. In conclusion: an Italian masterpiece, moreover, a prog classic of all time.

Review by Moogtron III
5 stars No doubt about it: this a stunning album. Not to everyone's taste, definitely not. It's really an acquired taste, but if you are into adventurous 70's prog, this may be an album for you. Fair enough, the music may be influenced in some ways by King Crimson and Yes, to name but a few, but you may forget about that: PFM is really one of a kind, and this album and the one before, Per Un Amico, show a band in an absolute peak form. The opening track, with the distant choir, is very original, and the contrast with the Steve Howe - like metal guitar that follows is fantastic. Sounds are very important in the music of PFM, and sometimes I wonder if the sounds are really deliberately made original, or that it's just because of the circumstances. For instance: I've read somewhere that PFM in those days didn't have a good leadsinger. The singing parts on the album are fantastic, though, solo as well as harmonies, and they sound very original too, and maybe it's just because they found some sort of way of dealing with the lack of a good lead singer. Lovely sounds, great instrumental interplays, magnificent production. I love the sound of the acoustic guitar on the opening track, the accordion (or is it?) on Is My Face On Straight and the organ on Via Lumiere. It all sounds like stepping into some other world, very dreamlike. The album reaches incredible heights on the tracks I just mentioned, and is overall very good. Laboured with love, no doubt. My favourite Italian progressive rock record of all times (though Per Un Amico, from the same band, comes close behind) and one of my favourite albums of all time.
Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 'L'isola di niente' starts with a long, pleasing a cappella choral intro before the band jumps in with some strident but majestic guitar, crashing cymbal and echoing singing. The track changes tempo and mood dramatically several times before fading out nearly 11 minutes later. An impressive track that does not feel that long.

'Is my face On Straight' is sung in English, with the vocals mixed to the back and sounding like they are being sung at the other end of an echoing room. Not very impressive, unlike the music itself, which is very pleasant and full of twists and turns. I especially like the funky guitar and bass, the flute jam, and the accordion (emulated on synth?) solo. I would have preferred the band to have come up with Italian lyrics which I'm sure would have sounded better on this track than Sinfield's strained attempt at being ironic and clever.

'La Luna Nova' is a great track, full of pleasing sounds and melodies: violin, keyboards sounding rather like medieval trumpets, breathy flute, pounding drums and twangy, strident guitar. This too has several changes of tempo and mood, typical of PFM. Love the trumpet-sounding synth. The piece is very melodic and catchy, and you'll be tapping your foot to this one for sure.

'Dolcissima Maria' is gorgeous: a simple piece with mellow acoustic guitar, calm keyboards, violin, and flute, and beautifully sung almost at a whisper. It is such a lovely tune and I just have to hum and whistle along to this one.

'Via Lumiére' starts with some bass noodling that introduces very slow, pleasant guitar before suddenly launching into a cacophony of strumming and raucous keyboards. Just as suddenly it calms down again into a jazzy, barroom number before taking off again. And then comes the most glorious, melodic ending: keyboards, guitar and drums play as if the sun has just come out, only to fade out to end the track.

After this album PFM released "The World Became The World" which has the five tracks from "L'Isola Di Niente" plus the track 'The World Became The World' (which is a rehash of 'Impressione Di Settembre' from the band's first album), all with English lyrics by Sinfield which are not translations of the original Italian lyrics. I have read several incorrect mappings of the tracks on the two albums, so here is the correct correspondence: The track 'L'Isola Di Niente' became 'The Mountain', 'La Luna Nova' became 'Four Holes In The Ground', 'Dolcissima Maria' became 'Just Look Away', 'Via Lumiére' became 'Have Your Cake And Eat It', and 'Is My Face On Straight' is, of course, the same track. In my opinion, 'Dolcissima Maria' is much better than 'Just Look Away' and, in general, I prefer the album "L'Isola Di Niente" to "The World Became The World", although I must say I do like Sinfield's lyrics on the track 'The World Became The World'.

This is another short album from PFM, but a gem nonetheless. I regard this and the band's first two albums as top-notch symphonic Progressive Rock. Whilst it is perhaps not essential in the same way as the first two albums, I still like it very much and can recommend it unreservedly, and would say you should also have it in your collection, along with the other two albums. If such a thing were possible I'd award it 4.5 stars but will settle for 4 (Excellent addition to any progressive music collection).

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The first song of this album is an authentic masterpiece, please pay attention so much to that song, is full of excellent music and changes,but in general the album is full of shades of improvisations, of conjuctions os feelings and of excellent music, the second song is write and speak obvious in english,that is somewhat rare in that epoca of pfm, can be somewhat experimental is too one of those details that do a very good album, and therefore that to say of the final track, that is an special song to close a good album, is like a translation of virtuosity and generosity of the band l to interpretate a work. One of the bests but not recognized albums of pfm...
Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars On the fourth album "L'isola di niente" (the English version is entitled "The world became the world") I trace again an obvious influence from early King Crimson, and again the 'feminine' side in the vein of tracks like "Epitaph" and "In the court of the crimson king" featuring bombastic Mellotron and Moogs along folky parts with acoustic instruments. Another influence is from Yes: powerful and propulsive bass guitar and guitars and keyboards with echoes from Howe and Wakeman. And some climates even contain jazzrock-like music, so there's a lot of varied styles on this album. ALTHOUGH AT SOME MOMENTS MY ATTENTION SLIPS AWAY, THIS ALBUM HAS MANY STRONG SONGS, ESPECIALLY THE COMPELLING MELLOTRON-DRENCHED TITLETRACK, GOOSE BUMPS!!
Review by progaeopteryx
4 stars This is my first purchase from PFM. I know I should have started with something like Per Un Amico, but when you see something from a group you'd like to try out for a cheap price, you grab it. And I'm glad I did, because if Per Un Amico is considered much better than this, then I'm really going to like that release.

Nevertheless, here we go. L'isola di Niente begins with the 10+ minute title track. It starts off with what sounds like a choir. I'm assuming this is the band since all five members have been credited with vocals. It's a strange start, but they're doing a wonderful job on the harmonies here. The music kicks in at shortly past the two minute mark and has a King Crimson likeness to it. The song moves from loud to quiet, alternating between loud instrument playing and choir-like vocals. It goes through several movements of this. I have to admit, I found this intriguing but a little hard to get used to at first. Since then, I've found this song to grow on me considerably.

The second track is Is My Face on Straight. The lyrics were written by Pete Sinfield and it's the only song on the album sung in English. Musically it is interesting and varies a lot, with some nice flute playing. Again, it takes a little getting used to. The third track, La Luna Nuova, is a great song, both powerful and complex, and full of energy with Beatlesque harmonies. Dolcissima Maria starts off as a light acoustic piece that's pretty and romantic, but then builds up to a majestic symphonic ending. The albums ends with Via Lumière, a complex instrumental of varying styles. A great ending to a very interesting album.

Most reviewers recommend starting with Per Un Amico, and I boldly went ahead and started with L'isola di Niente. Although not considered their best release, I'm living proof that you can start with this album and become greatly interested in PFM. Having only limited knowledge of 1970s Italian prog, I can't really rate this in comparison to other works from Italy. However, with regard to other European countries, especially Great Britain, L'isola di Niente holds up pretty well, well enough to deserve four stars. So if you're an American like me having a curiosity to explore PFM, this is a great place to start. I can't wait to get my hands on other PFM releases.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars After raiding in the realms of the English language with album "Photos of Ghosts", PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI returned to their native tongue, the charming and expressive Italian, just to gift us with another great release, "L'Isola Di Niente", although not in the same level of their first two releases. I really don't know how they succeeded recording in a foreign language (for them) but for me the artistic result was little appreciated. Maybe the most perceptible act was that PFM became better known outside Italy, especially in the more profitable UK market. If that was the intention then they probably got an extended audience and some bona fide payments in pounds. Well, I listened to their English language work with few attention and got little pleasure which made me go directly to this particular release, eager to hear the same lovable tunes I had heard before.

I remember also that time gap between hearing the two first band output and "L'Isola di Niente" wasn't significant but PFM presented a slightly different approach to progressive music. Band works were still appreciable but to reach the same standard of brilliance achieved before was an impossible mission, even so they got near, very near.

Opening song, the title-track is a kind of mid-size epic, beginning with exquisite and beautiful chant, sometimes odd, sometimes opera-like, a choir of strange voices. All this quaintness is subtly replaced by heavy guitar and drumming, a pure rock with faded vocals; the sensation of being alone in a distant isola (island) is meaningful. Intermediary section is a pure progressive tune: flute, keyboards, acoustic guitar melt to form a splendid theme trimmed by windy sound effects. En suite, a jazz-rock fusion segment tells us vividly the anguish of being nobody in the crowd and then the post-initial theme returns with the same vanishing voices and rock riffs. Song ending with guitars a la Floyd shows us the sadness of being lost in this world. This is really an unique piece!

'Is my face on straight?' is sung in English, a language not fitted for PFM's music. The song itself isn't bad bearing a good blend of instruments and a fair singing attempt; influences from other bands (specifically from Britain) are clearly noticeable: Tull, Genesis, Yes - a sortilege of them. Even so uncharacterized the track is fairly audible.

'La luna nova' has an intro resembling Floyd's 'Money' only to be substituted by a pastoral theme backed by flutes and following parts of rock, jazz and folk moods. Middle section is authentic PFM, with the band at their best; the joyful tunes remind us great moments of their first albums. The nervous and active last minute is another very progressive segment of the album and the real final is very surprising too.

'Dolcissima Maria' is a bucolic and catchy song, a soft interval after too many emotions. Vocals are pleasant and flute playing is agreeable. An uplifting track, indeed.

'Via Lumiere', the instrumental final track, begins with heavy bass edging some experimentalism. Before dullness dominates keyboard chords are heard and soon the atmosphere is transformed into a series of time changes and different signatures; now, the band jazz influences are notorious but again there's a sudden metamorphosis and a delightful psychedelic tune overcomes in a Beatles or Moody Blues manner heralding album's closure. Enjoyable.

Surely, PREMIATA produced a great output, keeping the standard of previous Italian-sung ones. Here we have a compulsory addition to any music collection. Final rating: 4.

Review by Kotro

Early morning Milan, March 2006. While waiting for the train to Turin, I decided to take a look around the area of the great Stazione Centrale. The station itself is quite a sight, but my eyes were drawn to the great Pirelli Tower. Standing close to it I have to admit it is one of the most beautiful tall buildings I've seen in Europe. Skyscrapers are not a common sight here, so it is quite common for tower blocks to be considered distasteful, as well as landscape architecture disasters. The Pirelli Tower stands proud in the heard of Milan, in its tall, futuristic ship-like shape. I couldn't look at its glass facade for long, though. It was a sunny morning, and the light vigorously reflected from it, but some back streets, like Via Generale Gustavo Fara, were practically pitch black - the shadow cast by the massive tower enshrouded its small alleys in what seemed perpetual darkness. I didn't found myself in those alleys by pure accident or mere sightseeing. I was searching. Searching for an album.

During my stay, I had the opportunity to search some of the media megastores in Milan. I was pleasantly surprised while browsing the local FNAC shop. I was searching the Italian Music section, and was a bit discouraged when I found no RPI. I then realized that instead of having huge national/foreign pop/rock stands and a huge national/foreign non-pop/rock, like its customary in Portugal, they had perfectly arranged divisions. I took a look around, following the corridors - folk (subdivided into various regions), folk-rock, pop-rock, hard-rock, heavy-metal, alternative-rock, blues, jazz, fusion, progressive rock (!), and then (quite naturally), a stand strictly for Rock Progressivo Italiano. I was jubilant. I felt like Schliemann upon discovering Troy. I eagerly searched the the stand, filled with classic albums and new takes on RPI. While I did so, I could only think of how proud the Italian proggers must feel to live in a country where even large chainstores pay attention to their favoured type of music. As always, during my stay in Milan, I had to shop in a hurry. I quickly jumped to the Premiata Forneria Marconi indication and searched or the album that contained that marvellous song I had heard through ProgArchives, the title track to the album L'Isola di Niente. I found it, but not the way I wanted it: it was a 3CD pack, priced around 20? containing L'Isola (which I wanted), Storia di un Minuto (which I already owned), and Suonare Suonare (which didn't really appeal to me at the time). So, I had to look for it elsewhere. Sure enough, I didn't leave that FNAC store empty-handed - I got a few goodies, some of which I've already reviewed (such as the dreadful Banco re-recording of Darwin!), other I hope to do so in the future.

So, I found myself in a dark alley in Milan, under the shadow of the Pirelli Tower, struggling against time to find a shop I had found on the Internet which had L'Isola di Niente for sale. I looked around at every door, every corner, I couldn't find the darn thing. Time was running short. When I finally spotted the shop, I felt a hand on my shoulder - "Dude, the train. We gotta go!" I never even saw the inside of the shop. After the trip to Turin, I only had time to pack and fly back home. Fortunately, my resident friend managed to give it a go, and brought me the album a few months later, for which I showed my gratitude in the form of trapist beer in the pub. We had a great night, laughing about our Italian adventure and admiring the colour of our bitter nectar.

The BMG CD is a thin digipack, without any booklet, with the credits printed on the inside, and a golden, almost transparent CD. Such transparency aids to the somewhat ethereal feel of the music it contains. The title track L'Isola di Niente opens the album with. well, one of the greatest album openers ever made, in any genre. The phantasmagorical vocal choir, followed by the phantasmagorical electric guitar chords that follow it, is guaranteed to send shivers down the most ruthless brutes' spines. The distant vocals complement the eerie feel of this first section of the song. The second part is a lot more keyboard driven, and not as ghostly as the first, featuring some pastoral passages with flute and violin, that then give way to a crescendo that ends up in a jazzy section, this time electric guitar and violin driven. It ends abruptly with a reprise of the first section, with smaller but more eschatological choir, and a delicate yet distorted guitar solo that brings it to an end. It is definitely the best track on the album, and one of the best by PFM, along with the likes of Appena un Po' and Impressioni di Settembre. The second track, Is My Face On Straight, lyrically penned by former King Crimson man Pete Sinfeld, is a merrier tune, with constant time changes, great vocals, drums and keyboard playing, with some instrumentation like violins and accordion giving it a circus-like sonority. La Luna Nuova begins with a mock-baroque introduction, with several kinds of electric keyboards being used. It slows down in a guitar driven section, which progressively gains some pace, fading suddenly as the vocals commence, at first gentle, then in a more energetic choir. The fast paced guitar ending gives way into the smaller track on the album, Dolcissima Maria, a quaint, delightful little ballad, with calm, soothing vocals, almost lullaby like. It is mostly acoustic guitar and violin-driven, complemented here and there with slights glimpses of electric guitar and keyboards. The song gains some strength towards the end, with the introduction of percussion and gentle flute playing, with the mellotron highly present in the background. Finally, Via Lumiere adds another King Crimsonesque touch to the album, this time musically, by means of an instrumental track, that begins with a noodling bass solo, that is then complemented by the remaining instrumentation, sounding like a soft piece of 5 a.m. free jazz. It then bursts into a harder, faster-paced section, with constant percussion and guitar riffing and a mad trumpet-like sound, that is later replaced by flute in a reprise. The ending section is much more PFM-like, with the keyboards and drumming providing the basis for some discrete electric guitar soloing bringing the song to an end, with distant vocals being heard in the background.

In summary, it is another PFM masterpiece, and probably the last. The entire album (just over 35 minutes long) is extremely effortless to listen, and you can easily get lost in it and wonder around in the musical landscapes it evokes. However, you can also be easily distracted. Therefore, headphones are probably the best way to fully enjoy this album.

Review by laplace
4 stars The foremost Italian prog unit delivered one of this reviewer's favourite slices of symphonic rock to follow two classicly better-received albums. "L'Isola di Niente" is a well-balanced tour-de-force and a keystone (along with Genesis' "Foxtrot") in what I like to call "magical prog" - gentle, instrumentally textured and upbeat music with a surprisingly poetic, whimsical bent that still manages to have a sting in its tail. The tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland appears vividly to me while I listen to this fantastic album, and not just because of the simple lyrical cues in "Is My Face on Straight?". Whatever this album's true message may be, this reviewer ascribes it the following moral: "Be content and comfortable in your oddity."

Side A is outstanding and deserves a little examination. The title track is a cute, segmented mini-epic which flits between chorale, Crimsonic hard rock and PFM trademarked keyboard-guitar interplay to produce a decidedly luscious ride - baffling but pleasantly so, like a trip through the seasons in a much more pro-rock way than Vivaldi could have imagined. It ends mysteriously, as if the musicians were winding up to repeat the whole piece, but fades out instead - a shame, since PFM albums are often so short, another five minutes added to the glory of "L'Isola di Niente" would have been perfectly welcome. "Is My Face on Straight?" is lusher still, although at times it becomes a little dubious - the english lyrics don't necessary feel at home on this otherwise Italian language album - especially as this reviewer finds Sinfield's lyrics eternally ham-handed and cringeworthy - and the power chorus moments can feel a little vacuous. Even so, in more subtle stretches, the enduring romantic italian sensibilities shine through.

Side B is a little more peculiar, featuring cod-classical moments ala The Nice or Collegium Musicum - but much more tasteful than those supposedly erudite rock bands ever got. There's also folk, traditional songwriting, Oldfield-inspired guitar lines and even a jazz-funkified jam - although not in a "Jet Lag" way - that ascends into a glamorous, sweeping mellotron outro.

I have come close to rewarding "L'Isola di Niente" the full five stars, and if I was more symphonically inclined there wouldn't even have been a decision involved. Bear this in mind - my tastes lie elsewhere, yet this inspired record is still up there with my most beloved!

Review by ZowieZiggy
5 stars This is probably my favourite « PFM » album.

The title track is just wonderful. It starts as an opera, evolves into hard territory, then brings you into some wonderful mellotron moments, leads you to a pastoral flute passage, through subtle keyboards and ends like "Dancing Out With The Moonlit Knight". What an enjoyable piece of music !

This album won't be fully Italian, which is in a way a bit sad since the only English song "Is My Face on Straight" is also featured on "The World.". This song is probably the most "Crimson" oriented. The finale is rather funny and jazzy as well.

Some prog folk to continue : "La Luna Nuova" starts really like a medieval piece of music. Full of joy and dynamic instrumental opening. The festive mood goes on with the vocals. We are not far from "E Festa" in the spirit.

I guess that there is no better title for the quiet and melodic "Dolcissima Maria". Very sweet indeed. Again, the influence is early Crimson while playing pure symphonic music. "Trespass" is of course another point of comparison. Magnificent flute for the last minute. So light, so nice, so beautiful, so . Italian.

The closing and instrumental "Via Lumiere" is again truly Crimsonesque noisy and improv style during the first half. Rather difficult to digest I would say. Fortunately, the second part is again a pure symphonic joy. Melodious and repetitive, it is the final touch to this great album.

It is not a perfect one, but for reasons I will outline in my the review for "The World ..." I will give the maximum rating available.

Five stars.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the highly acclaimed double home run of the 1972 releases, there came L'isola Di Niente a couple years later. PFM were, like Yes, at full stride in this time period and this is a good ablum with two great tracks and three average ones. The real gems here are the title track and "La Luna Nuova." The other three songs have some fine moments but are not of the same quality. The title track begins with dramatic choirs of beautiful voices for about 2 minutes until the band crashes in. A jangly guitar over steamroller bass, cymbal crashes, and vocal. Around 4 ½ minutes is a serene section of acoustic guitar and strings that will slowly evolve back to rock via creeping electric guitar notes. Some of the rock sections sound a bit like what Yes might be doing on Topographic, very adventurous and really throwing all the cards on the table. It's a feast! The ending is a lush electric solo over classical guitar. "Is my face on straight?" features English vocals unfortunately and has its moments but seems dreadfully out of place here. With quite an avant-garde jazz feel like something from McDonald-Giles this is really pretty strange, but such is the spirit of the album I suppose. The instrumentation is fantastic as usual, great bass, guitar, and drumming that would make Bruford and Squire take notice! "La Luna Nuova" has a royal, renaissance, and folky feel and gives in to every impulse. There is some violin and flute along with the fabulous interplay of the group, again the drumming is exceptional. Some of this song would not sound out of place on Gryphon's Red Queen album though other parts rock harder. "Dolcissima Maria" begins with soft vocals and acoustic guitar, then some delicate lead guitar and strings, but very gentle, almost a lullaby. At about 3 minutes they kick it up a notch with drums and bass, and melodic keyboards. "Via Lumiere" starts with some Tony Levin styled lead bass. After this introduction it moves to a crazy fusion section that is loud and aggressive with edgy violin for push the envelope. One can hear bits and pieces of the Jet Lag sound coming into the picture already. For the last 3 minutes it changes back to the Italian symphonic sound with majestic mellotron and guitars but with little spark left of the earlier tracks, it seems they ran out of steam. Neither the fusion chunk nor the symphonic chunk have enough time or ideas to develop into anything truly memorable as they share the same 7 minutes.

My rating for this album is 3 ½ stars. I suppose I could round up and be more in line with consensus but as I re-crunch my system I can't get it above 3 ½, and I guess I expect a bit more from PFM at this stage. Furthermore, as much as I love Italian, comparing it to a period rival like "Relayer" I believe it falls short of that work. Still this album should be considered as highly recommended to Italian fans and recommended for anyone else who thinks crisp symphonic with some leanings toward fusion sounds tantalizing. The 2004 Japanese mini features some incredible pumped sound for 1974.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars January 1/08 Review #1,000

It's hard for me to believe that there was a time in my life when I listened to English-only music. Back then I just didn't see the point of listening to music with words that I didn't understand. Looking back now I just shake my head because lyrics never have been that important to me. Anyway there was this guy who used to come in my store(still does), and he always asked me about the music that I had playing. He is older than me, and he told me he used to listen to GENTLE GIANT, KING CRIMSON, GENESIS and all the prog greats back in the early seventies.That was the music he listened to in highschool. Anyway we forged a friendship and ever since I have been lending him up to 6 cds at a time, and he'll bring them back a couple of months later and give me his thoughts. So near the beginning of our friendship he brings me PFM's "L'Isola Di Niente" to listen to. I accept it knowing the vocals are in Italian, but I figure i'll give it a listen to satisfy him and return it the next time I see him. Haha. The rest is history as they say. Do you know how much money I have spent on non-English bands because of this cd !! I am so thankful that he came into my store though, and that he eventually lent me this incredible piece of music. This is my favourite from the band, I suppose it's that first love syndrome, although it's good to see Cesar Inca and Zowie Ziggy feel the same way. One significant lineup change is the addition of new bassist Jan Patrick Djivas, the original bassist for AREA.

"L'Isoloa Di Niente" opens with these powerful choirs for over 2 minutes. I can't say that this appeals to me much, but it makes what follows sound even better in my opinion.The bass is incredible as the vocals and guitar shine beautifully.This is heaven ! I must say that PFM have at least one mind blowing song on each of their first three(Italian vocal) albums. The guitar reminds me of Howe from YES. A change before 4 minutes to a GENESIS-like passage. Flute, violin, guitar and organ before 5 minutes is excellent. The choirs return briefly before 7 1/2 minutes followed by the same earlier melody. Nice. Check out the guitar 9 1/2 minutes in. Nice. I read somewhere that this is the longest song that PFM has ever done. "Is My Face On Straight" features mellow, reserved vocals. Some nice flute before it changes 2 1/2 minutes in to an almost sixties feel. Drums, vocals, bass and organ lead the way in this uptempo section. The flute returns in a melodic and gorgeous passage with vocals right behind. Fantastic tune. It ends with a silly section of accordian and the words "Is my face on straight ?" repeated over and over.

"La Luna Nuova" was a favourite of the band to play live. It opens with almost a dancing violin melody as other instruments are added. The flute and bass stand out. A GENESIS-like sound 2 1/2 minutes in with mellotron to follow before 3 minutes. Vocals come in before the uptempo melody returns before 4 minutes. Great bass lines. The GENESIS-vibe is back 5 1/2 minutes in to end it. "Dolcissima Maria" is such a beautiful ballad. It opens with piano before acoustic guitar and fragile vocals arrive. Violin follows. Flute 3 minutes in as vocals stop. The song brightens at this point. Simply stunning. "Via Lumiere" opens with the new bass player showing his stuff. Keys come in and the Jazz flavour is getting stronger. It kicks in before 2 minutes. Lots of intricate sounds are featured in this uptempo section. It calms right down 3 minutes in. Nice piano melodies. It takes off again 4 minutes in with some flute, this time out in front. The song ends with a gorgeous, relaxing passage.

It is truly amazing how this band makes such complex music, and at the same time they make it so melodic and beautiful.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars Not as good as their first album called "Storia di un Minuto" or their "Per un Amico" album, but still good, deserving at least a four stars rating. In this album, the band did some experiments like the inclusion of a choir in the title song, which sounds good but not very related to the rest of the parts of the song. In this case, there are some songs which are better than the others. "Is my Face on Straight?", with socially critical English lyrics written by Peter Sinfield, is somewhat Heavy musically, but good. "La Luna Nuova" is very influenced by Italian Folk music in some parts, before becoming a very good Prog Rock song with complicated melodies played by the guitar and the synthesizer, plus very good performances by all the members of the band. The beautiful "Dolcissima Maria", a very melodic song played with acoustic guitars, keyboards and flute, plus a very good final part with drums and bass. "Via Lumiere" is more like a Jazz-Rock musical piece with very good bass guitar and guitars. This is an enjoyable album too.
Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars L'isola Di Niente might just as well be PFM's compositionnally most ambitious project, when comparing their three classic albums (Storia Di Un Minuto, Per Un Amico and this one). But while adding...organisation, the distinct PFM sound seems somewhat left behind in favour of a more mainstream prog sound. Yes is the band that first comes to mind, with very lush and fully-packed soundscapes and a vague, but omnipresent touch of The Beatles. Both the guitar and the bass (which is now provided by Jan Patrick Djivas of Area fame) show many similarities to the colleagues in the British, quintessential, prog group. Needless to say, that sure means a noticeably upgraded bass sound.

Now, a step in Yes' direction is hardly an indication of music of lesser quality but, as stated earlier, leaves you with something of a long face after hearing, and then expecting, Per Un Amico.

The sound on this album is very different from Storia Di Un Minuto and Per Un Amico. Where piano/acoustic guitar parts were abundant (they're still here, though), we're now served a more classical symphonic outline with the rest of the music served on top of a tight rythm section, with shorter 'solo' outbursts from the rest of the instruments. Both the drummer and the bassist have a tougher time on L'Isola Di Niente. But just about everything is more intense! There is a lot of force in the music, a driving character which of course also was present on earlier releases, but it's just so much more obvious here. L'Isola Di Niente, La Luna Nouva (a lot of baroque feeling on this one, although there's less on the album as whole compared to earlier releases) and Via Lumière remains sweet spots for just that reason. Frantic guitar, flute and keys takes us along whirling, sweaty passages that once again shouts Yes. Pehaps with the exception of parts of Via Lumière, which instead is openly Crimsonesque.

PFM's English forays are perhaps the only way some people have come in contact with the band. In those cases, what a shame. There is a song penned in English on L'Isola Di Niente, courtesy of Peter Sinfield, who have written for KC and ELP in the past. A quirky little devil, with the name Is My Face On Straight, which actually features some accordion. Isn't it amazing how fast you can swing from being very conservative about bands singing in other languages than English? I can now add that just as fast, you become conservative to an Italian band singing in something else than Italian. While not a bad song, it still leaves a bad taste due to the English and the annoying vocal production. Way down back. Dolcissima Maria with its folky acoustic guitar (Strawbs?) and sweet melodies is the other 'lesser' song on the album. It feels..lazy, I want more. I just want more, even though it isn't at all bad.

To sum it all up: yet another excellent release from the band, and a big step forward when it comes to composition. Unfortunately, some of the bands trademark sound and atmosphere is lost along the way, and that comes with a price. There are also two songs that just can't reach for masterpiece status, leaving L'Isola Di Niente somewhere around 3.5 stars. But my heart, and the best of the material here, still tells me it's necessary to round up.

Thus 3,5 stars, but going for 4.


Review by poslednijat_colobar
5 stars Probably the best album by Premiata Forneria Marconi of simply PFM!It is already my favourite from the band.I rediscovered it two months ago.Before that I thought this album is weaker than Storia di un minuto and Per un amico,but now I think I was wrong.It's the undisputed peak of PFM in terms of songwriting.In terms of musicianship L'isola di niente,Per un amico and Storia di un minuto are of highest standard,but what about the songwriting - this is the real island of everything for PFM!Here we can see something else - a song in english - Is My Face on Straight.And despite being in english the music and the lyrics are so well synchronized.I mention it,because when you start to use another language there are risks about that!I believe in this album shine the genius one La luna nuova.It contains unbelievable progression full of half and quarter musical notesfollowed by full notes and sharply changes in tempo.Just exceptional!
Review by DamoXt7942
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams
4 stars First I wanna say the fourth track 'Dolcissima Maria' is, same as 'Chi Mi Puo' Capire' by New Trolls, one of the most beautiful songs of all in Italian Progressive Rock world.

Beg your pardon but I think this song is the highlight of this album. For what it's worth, I'm a little sad that the sound of this song is too weak and low (whispering?) for me to hear. But always I can't help weeping with listening to it.

Of course, all songs and contents of this album are excellent. On the first track L'Isola di Niente, opera-like chorus can make us quiet but thump-thump (!), and immediately flying rock sound including guitar, bass and percussion can really fly over us. We should be punched away by echoed and floated voice. This song might love sudden changes I suggest. Chorus with quiet, typical rock sound, and streaming keyboard work are all intertwined with each other and rush to the end. The second Is My Face On Straight is slightly cheap (sorry!) English song but one of my faves. Not kiddin'! There's an atmosphere of PFM's pleasure and happiness, and I always get their relaxed feeling. Unconsciously I want to sing to the song... :-)

The third La Luna Nuova has more peculiar tempo and beat, more aggressive percussion play, louder (!) flute sound...all great plays and works can be mixed and establish the complete PFMWORLD. Very strong, very impressive! The last Via Lumiere looks (hears?) like a rampant horse. Guitar's hard-edge and strict rhythm section should make the song perfectly. Indeed this song doesn't have the PFM flavour, but might be suitable for getting more worldwide...not my fave.

To tell the truth, the album is the best PFM's one for me. But I'm afraid they were too conscious of worldwide in this work.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Here we are! The best album of the one of the best Italian Progresive rock band!

Yes, now I hear that they know how to play prog-rock! Their debut album, so popular between many of fans, really wasn't so good for me. The reason was very simple - I like many diffrent styles of music, starting from classical, through jazz and rock to avantgarde. One of my beloved styles are real prog-rock. But do you think I want to listen recordings of few very talented classical music students, when during their free time they are playing baroque music or madrigals in some soft-rock arrangements? No way! I prefer good concert in Philharmony.

Their second album was much stronger, more natural mix of classical elements and some rock. But real masterpiece is this one!

Very important - music is complex, mutitextured, but very organic there. Less useless citates from classic, more combined constructions, where classic, jazz, fusion and rock roots are melted in one sound. Much better focused and structurised, with rhythm and drive, this album is real top of their musical career ( at least - in early prog-rock field). Here you can clearly hear King Crimson and Gong ideas included produced original sound.

Highly recommended to any prog-rock fan, as well for all who were disappointed by PFM earlier albums, or some RPI too sweety-symphonic albums of some their competitors.

RPI in it's best!

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It took Premiata Forneria Marconi slightly longer to follow up their breakthrough album which had to do with their touring and the re-recording of their previous material in English on Photos Of Ghosts. Listening to their third studio album it's obvious that the band has evolved since we last heard them but has it all turned out for the better?

The album's title track opens up with a two minute choir intro that I assume is here to set up the mood but instead overstays its welcome and doesn't work all that well on repeated visits. The rest of the composition features a more mature Premiata Forneria Marconi-sound which also tends to be much more calculated and ends up short on the creative spontaneity. Still one has to love this performance because it shows the band on top of their game and had it not been for the choir intro it would have easily become an album highlight.

Is My Face On Straight is this album's English-sung tune which definitely feels out of place with the rest of the material. If there actually was any other reason for this than the obvious stab at another commercial breakthrough then I would have given it a break but on this album this track just sticks out like a sore thumb.

La Luna Nuova and Dolcissima Maria mark a return to the great sound from the band's previous two albums where the latter is especially memorable for its soft acoustic ballad sound and a completely mesmerizing melody. But just as we've got comfortable in this familiar territory comes something completely unexpected and blows us completely out of the water!

Via Lumiere begins with an unusual bass-driven section that then transforms into a mix of Jazz Rock/Fusion sound with slight nods at Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part Two! This unexpected changed of direction completely intrigued me and I must have repeated this particular composition at least three times after the first time hearing this record. It's marked this record's definite highlight and made me even more interested in how this whole direction would evolve on the band's future records!

It's great to see Premiata Forneria Marconi trying new ideas here but I personally would have preferred an even deeper exploration of the Jazz Rock/Fusion territory which was so apparent on Via Lumiere and not smoothing the transition into a half-baked effort. Fortunately there is just enough great music here to turn L'Isola Di Niente into another excellent release with a taste of the things to come!

***** star songs: Via Lumiere (7:25)

**** star songs: L'Isola Di Niente (10:48) La Luna Nuova (6:27) Dolcissima Maria (4:08)

*** star songs: Is My Face On Straight (6:41)

Review by andrea
5 stars After the two magnificent albums released in 1972, Premiata Forneria Marconi became one of the most reputed Italian prog bands. So, with their third album "L'isola di niente", released in 1974, they could obtain more attention from media and their fame began spreading abroad. Perhaps this album is not as fresh as "Storia di un minuto" or "Per un amico", but all the members of the band showcase here astounding musicianship and creativity. This album is also the first one featuring bassist Patrick Djivas (former member of Area) and his "touch" adds new musical colours to the song-writing and emphasis to the rhythmic patterns. The result is excellent.

The long and complex opener title-track begins with an operatic choir. The mood is dark and solemn, then electric guitar and rhythm section underline tense vocals drawing a gloomy setting where people are just numbers... "It's is sad to walk / It's pointless looking for a reason / Fairy tales and lies about God / Stupid soldiers are enquiring after me...". Suddenly tension melts and a more joyful section follows. Thinking about nothing is the only way to rest, to escape from an oppressing reality and your own mind can become a shield against the world, an island where you can find a shelter. Here the music is more relaxed, even dreamy but it's just for a while because choir and reality break in again... "And like a kite without wind / I don't talk anymore about believing, about forgiving / Too many truths are enquiring after me...".

Next track "Is My Face On Straight" is definitively lighter... "Inflate your waistcoat, wind down your eyes /Tie on your best smile, check your disguise / Dryclean your old jokes, practise despair / Hide your relations under the stairs / You're invited to attend the turkey party convention / Isn't that nice?". This track is sung in English and lyrics are by Pete Sinfiled. Remarkable the final keyboards solo (or is it an accordion?) by Flavio Premoli.

"Luna nuova" is an excellent blending of folk and symphonic rock with flute and violin adding colours to a joyful melody. Lyrics depict a pastoral and dreamy landscape under a new moon where fears are burning on bonfires and songs soar in the air till dawn in an endless game.

"Dolcissima Maria" (Sweet Mary) is beautiful and bittersweet acoustic ballad about the time passing by... "Sweet Mary, forget the flowers painted by time on your face / And all the years gone away while you were sitting and waiting... It's time to go... Don't turn back anymore...".

The last track "Via Lumière" is an instrumental that opens with a bass solo and then flows away with many changes of rhythm and atmosphere, swinging from jazz to folk-rock, concluding a wonderful album.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars On their 3rd album, PFM stretched their legs into some new shapes and directions. It doesn't make for very coherent listening but their will to move things forward is admirable. Unfortunately the result is a step backwards at times, but at least is not a standstill or replica of the previous successes. Which is greatly appreciated.

L'Isola Di Niente. Good track with one of those few moments where PFM really thrill me. After the opening choir, there's a guitar driven space-rock section with pulsating bass and wonderful dreamy melodies. They break the momentum with a pastoral middle section that has lots of Yes-influences. It's not always my thing but at the heart, this track strikes me as very personal, imaginative and creative. 4 stars

The band's heads were clearly directed into North-Western directions, and they integrated some funky fusion into their sound, exactly the type that had become popular in Canterbury areas. On Is My Face On Straight, the result is very dissatisfactory, clumsy even. It's an incoherent track that tries to do a funky take on early Gong but it misses the mark completely. 2 stars

La Luna Nueva is a try at being the Italian Yes. Both the snappy guitar playing, the nervous time signatures and the brassy Wakeman synths manage to create a kind of Italian Tormato that might appeal to die-hard Yes fans but that makes my Pasta Pomodore a bit heavy on the stomach. In other words, it's one of the most annoying things I've heard since ? since ever I guess. The jazz-rock infused last minute saves it somewhat. 2 stars

Dolcissima Maria must be the only track that reminds us of previous PFM albums. It's a gentle acoustic track with that typical pastoral delicacy, keyboards add a jazzy feel. The ending of the song is sheer easy listening muzak. It's a fine song but not as good as anything on the debut. 3 stars

Another fusion-inspired track ends the album and this time it's more accomplished. Via Lumiere takes some influences from early Gong again and this time it works quite well. Yet, there are points where the musicians try to beat each other at being busy and dexterous. A bit more restraint would have suited the track better. 3 stars, but it sure made me interested to check out the jazzier direction that PFM took on later albums.

L'Isola Di Niente is a rather inconsistent album with some daring steps in new directions. Unfortunately, those steps fail as much as they are successful. The opener compensates for most of what follows. A small 3 stars.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars PFM made a very quick trajectory regarding their first three albums. In their debut, there was a very organic, minimally rehearsed feel, and by their third album, L'isola di niente, the pendulum has swung to carefully crafted and arranged pieces. On Per un Amico, they probably got the balance just right, but here I get the sense that so much is crammed into such a short space, and with such rapid shifts between segments, that it's just a bit too busy, and most of the dreamy, often pastoral, feel of their previous albums has been written out. It's certainly a tough line to walk.

Of course, there are plenty of great melodies, and more importantly, wonderful playing and musicianship to be found, and these features can be found on each of the 5 pieces. The title track has yet to take ahold of me, as the shifts between the choral bits and the rock bits are too jarring and don't seem to supplement each other. Is My Face on Straight and Via Lumiere also have these qualities, with some good tunes and very hyperactive playing in spots, but these quality pieces don't seem to fit together into coherent songs.

La Luna is probably my favorite of the album, with a happy little 5/4 ditty that gradually builds into a full cacophony of PFM power, with a great sound from the flute/synth/violin combo, and finishing with an absolutely crazy riff. Still not the most cohesive song, but moreso than the rest.

In short, PFM pull out all the prog stops but in so doing lose a bit of their unique charm. It's of course still worth having, but it lacks the impact--at least for me--of their first two albums.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars An amazing album which demonstrates the virtuosity of all of the band's intstrumentalists. It also shows the band being influence by the Jazz Fusion and YES world quite a bit.

1. L'Isola di Niente (10:42) is one of the most unique songs in progressive rock. A true masterpiece. 9/10

2. Is My Face On Straight (6:38) is the band's first attempt at singing in English. Very nice to the 1:30 mark where a very NEKTAR-sounding section begins. At 3:35 it becomes more like URIAH HEEP. Instrumental section of soli is then followed by an awesome FOCUS-like accordian piece to end. 8/10

3. La Luna Nuova (6:21) begins with a very GRYPHON/JETHRO TULL flavor. At the 2:27 mark the second theme is presented until it is supplanted by a soft piano and mellotron-backed vocal. The 3:40 mark sees the start of a very YES "THE Yes Album" "Yours Is No Disgrace" sound which is then taken over by a more WAKEMAN-ish theme before the 5:05 return to "theme 2", which is then speeded up till the finale of a low horn. 8/10

4. Dolcissima Maria (4:01) is a folksy CROSBY, STILL, AND NASH-plus-violin-sounding piece which takes on much more of a pop feel when the drums join in at the 3:05 mark. 6/10

5. Via Lumiere (7:21) begins with a one minute bass solo a la JACO PASTORIUS before the slow RTF/CHICK COREA sounds take over. The 4:00 minute mark sees a shift to a more FOCUS/JOE WALSH sound. From 4:55 on it shifts to more FOCUS/GENESIS. 9/10

My only criticism of this album is that it's recording/engineering quality definitely shows its age. My second favorite PFM album--and one which shows the band's growth both as instrumental masters and daring, adventurous compositionists. Despite it's 1970s typical short length, and one week, 'poppy' song, this is a true masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars It always seemed to me that if Premiata Forneria Marconi were an English speaking & singing band (and didn't have such a long, foreign sounding name - but shortening it to just PFM helped that), they could have been much bigger in the prime years of prog rock in the seventies. Even back when prog was popular, I don't recall ever meeting anyone who knew of this band. And that's too bad. This album would have blown them away.

The album is a showcase for many different prog styles, all performed exquisitely. There is symphonic prog, with the album opening with a choral intro on L'Isola di Niente, and moving into symphonic prog rock bliss. Is My Face On Straight has an almost Canterbury jazz rock feel to it. La Luna Nuova begins with an almost prog folk sound, but becomes very Yes-like by it's crescendo. Dolcissima Maria gives us a bit of a rest before Via Lumiere (my favorite song by PFM), end the album with some fine bass playing.

Again, I don't speak Italian, so the lyrics mean nothing to me (even the one song with English lyrics, where they sound too buried in the mix to understand).

Review by Warthur
4 stars Rather than recording a third album in the pastoral style of their first two releases, PFM chose to experiment a bit more on L'Isola di Niente. The album very much seems like a transitional one, in which the band dabble in a range of different approaches perfected by other bands of the day whilst still remaining PFM-ish enough to retain their identity. The opening title track shows the heavy keyboard attack of ELP, whilst closing track Via Lumiere begins with discordant noodling before breaking out into a wild avant-garde attack reminiscent of Larks' Tongues-era King Crimson, spending the rest of the track shifting between that and a fusion mould influenced by Mahavishnu Orchestra, until reaching a conclusion worthy of Genesis themselves.

There's pastoral joy here too, so if you like your RPI bands dripping with Trespass-era Genesis worship then you'll like some of the middle tracks. And one track is sung in English (Is My Face On Straight), though to be honest that's probably the weakest track on the album - singing in a language which isn't your native one is always a challenge, but even then the vocals seem substantially weaker in terms of their performance than PFM's usual standard. So, not a wonderful classic on the level of the first two PFM albums, partly because of Is My Face On Straight and partly because of the watering-down of the band's distinctive identity and the transitional nature of the album. But it's still a very enjoyable listen and should be your next step after sampling the classic Storia di un Minuto and Per Un Amico.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars At time of its release sometime in the 70s, this legendary album from Italian PFM was quite hard for me to digest comparing to those of other legendary albums like 'Fragile', 'Selling England', 'In The Court of Crimson King', or even 'Free Hand' from other prog bands at that years. For some reason, the main problem with me was the tagline melody which was not quite familiar to my ears compared to other 70s albums by the same band like 'Photos of Ghost' or 'Storia..' or 'Jet Lag' or 'Per Aminco'. The opening track which happened to be the album title was quite hard for me to digest. But it then grew on me at later stages where I listened to various kind of prog music not just symphonic but also Canterbury, Eclectic and RIO. I then started to enjoy the music like the other albums.

Musically, this album is really solid as it has excellent composition combining good notes and sounds of many instruments that contribute to the music. The bass lines are really tight and solid, the flute-work is really excellent. I especially enjoy the flute sounds and styles on the second track "Is My Face On Straight" (6:38). It's like Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) in symphonic prog setting. It's really nice. The other instrument that plays excellent is guitar. Piano and keyboard are also quite dominant throughout the album. The third track "La Luna Nuova" (6:21) starts nicely with violin work followed with excellent keyboard solo that later brings the music into crescendo with nice drum work and ...of course dynamic flute-work! The music than moves into a complex arrangement combining excellent work of all musicians involved. "Dolcissima Maria" (4:01) is a mellow track that serves as a ballad. The concluding track "Via Lumiere" (7:21) starts with an ambient mode using bass guitar solo. The music gradually moves into complex and heavier style. It's an excellent track to close the album. I love the piano solo combined with guitar part in the middle of the track.

It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by admireArt
4 stars This work is a "once in a life-time" achievement; even for PFM; why? That for me is still a mystery. It is quiet clear to me that the astounding " L'Isola di Niente" composition; was just for these guys; like a "Big Experiment", but not really a road to work on. It seems that they felt more close and comfortable with Prog oriented Folk music. Italian style; but folk. So this one time attempt is un-beatable and un-matched. Pure genius composition; great and exciting performances, and a really daring accomplishment. The whole album works out perfectly; so the following songs more ballad-oriented are enhanced by the brilliant quality of "L'Isola di Niente" song. No one should miss this rarity, in the sense of PFM discography. Get it in italian (the other version is in english; not the same) The bold guitar riffs of "L'Isola di Niente" became a trademark in the worlds´s prog guitar language. Adventorous project!! ****4+ "once in a lifetime masterpiece "
Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Drunk with the possibilities, or in espionage terms, the plausiblilities, of rock music that is in constant flux, the Milanese legends just let it go here, offering a set that is packed with promise. Most of that promise is fulfilled on this five-cut LP from '74, their fifth in the studio, and drunk is what one should probably be when hearing this puppy for the first time. The operetta that opens the 10-minute title requires some patience but it busts out soon enough with some heavy-ass guitar riffage from Franco Mussida and a complimentary vocal, trudging its way through a thicket of tin-can symph, neat ascending arpeggios, satisfying odd-metered rock, bumblebee synth/guitar lines, more forced operetta, and ambled beach-combing.

'Is My Face on Straight' is good, could've been better, features some appealing rhythms but also some awkward Greg Lake-derived singing and doesn't distinguish this ensemble. But it's still prog, what are you gonna do. A faux cash machine sets the pace for 'La Luna Nuova', taken over by synths, flutes, gonky basses, fluppy drums, an organ, all thrown together for a nice midsection and high-quality crescendo with bracing guitar/keyboard matches. Sleepy and smitten 'Dolcissima Maria' is acceptable (if you're on your honeymoon in Liguria), and Jan Patrick Djivas' bass bumbles out jazz-rock experiment 'Via Lumiere', a not-so-bad take on the fusion of the time.

This is both a very good and yet largely facultative album; it is a noncompulsory addition to a prog listeners collection, and should be among, but not the first of, the purchases a new RPI fan will make.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars PFM's last "classic" Italian release, "l'Isola di Niente" already starts to see a preference towards a more British approach of prog rock. This isn't a fault, per se; the overall quality is on par with, if not higher than, the earlier "Per Un Amico" but it still doesn't reach the peaks of "Storia di un Minuto".

The title track opens the album rather dynamically, with a haunting choir starting off before begin abruptly riffed away by the guitar. This certainly isn't the delicate rustic romance that we've heard from PFM before. But oddly enough, it works. After an opening side with some clear influences from British contemporaries (notably Yes for these ears), the PFM that we're more familiar with returns on side two.

"La Luna Nuova" is the hidden gem of this island, a lively piece evoking spry summer moods of seaside village life, and evening scenery on the Mediterranean. Very nice! The romance returns with "Dolcissima Maria" and "Via Lumiere" brings the album crashing to a chaotic jazzy end.

This album comes as much of a shock to the system for all of us who thought we knew PFM, but the oddities and experimentation ultimately pay off for a satisfying, cohesive album, if not one that's hard to get into at first. 4 stars as this is a very good album, even if it isn't textbook RPI.

Review by patrickq
4 stars I must admit that I question whether "Rock Progressivo Italiano" is a bona fide subgenere of progressive-rock music. To me, it's a historically important regional variation of art and progressive rock along the lines of "Krautrock" and the "Canterbury Scene."* But whether RPI is a distinct style or just a useful category, L'Isola di Niente is one of its best albums.

Like Premiata Forneria Marconi's first two LPs, this one contains a series of twists and surprises, which begin immediately with the title song. "L'Isola di Niente" opens with an unaccompanied choir singing wordlessly. At one minute into the track, there's a pause where the listener may anticipate a rock break-in, but in a daring move (in my opinion, anyway), the chorus goes on, with another pause around 1:30. Once two minutes have elapsed, it's fair to wonder whether "L'Isola di Niente" will feature any hint, vocal or instrumental, or popular music. Finally, at 2:07, the voices converge on a chordal resolution and a few seconds later, the symphonic rock begins.

But the musical shifts here are unlike those on the group's earlier albums, where some of the changes seemed to be non-sequiturs. Now the changes - - which are just as unorthodox and unanticipated as before - - are somehow cleverer. And once again, the band's confidence has increased since their last album - - or, more correctly, since their last album of new material - - Photos of Ghosts (1973) was comprised primarily of English-language versions of songs from their first two Italian LPs. L'Isola di Niente contains PFM's first from-scratch English-language song, "Is My Face on Straight," with lyrics by Peter Sinfield. Even forty-five years later, it's a song I'd call humorous, though others might find it annoyingly liberal: "we have ways to make you cheer / as long as you're not sick or poor, a Negro or a queer." Interestingly, it predates by more than four years Supertramp's classic "The Logical Song," with which it shares a similar theme and approach.

Constituted by "L'Isola di Niente" and "Is My Face on Straight," Side One is by far the stronger; the remaining three tracks represent a return to the group's 1972 albums. "La Luna Nuova" echoes the usual suspects like Yes and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer - - and even the Beatles (the "mai mai mai fine" (never, never, never end") section). In "La Luna" PFM also manages to include a healthy dose of the progressive folk they're evidently fond of, but whereas their debut album included three soft, folk-tinged pieces, L'Isola di Niente includes only one: "Dolcissima Maria," the shortest song here by several minutes. The first part of "Via Lumiere," the album-closer, is a mediocre medley of ambient, Crimsonian, and fast- paced jazz segments, but the soaring denouement - - beginning at 4:33 - - is the strongest passage on the album.

Perhaps owing to the group's experiences on the road and in the studio since their prior album, L'Isola di Niente represents a substantial refinement of the PFM sound. I'd recommend it it without reservation to fans of prog-rock, especially those who, like me, enjoy the genre's mainstream 1970s "classics."


*However, I'll admit that RPI would be more significant than a hypothetical "Midwest Scene" of early-1970s US symphonic rock (Kansas, Starcastle, and Styx - - maybe Pavlov's Dog or Frijid Pink as well). And for what it's worth, identifies twenty-one genres, from Classical to Comedy/Spoken to Holiday to Electronic. Pop/Rock is one of the twenty- one, with fifteen subgenres, including British Invasion and "Europop." So maybe I'm wrong that geography can't constitute a subgenre.

Review by zeuhl1
5 stars The last truly classic PFM album, L'Isola di Niente was released in 1974 and it is truly their most ambitious release to date. Opening with the title track, we are greeted with a huge church-like choir echoing a capella (an odd and daring choice for sure), it shifts to uncharacteristic crashing chords and the nimble bass of Patrick Djivas (recently pooched from the seminal band Area). Crisply recorded the song veers between flickers of Genesis, Yes and King Crimson that really don't sound as much like their influences as a synthesis that is now fully original. This is one of the better and more representative songs in their repertoire and it transitions through acoustic sections to electric sections smoothly. Echoes of Fripp from Franco Mussida over a delicate arpeggiation take us out. Second song Is My Face on Straight is the lone English lyric song on the album and sounds closer to the songwriting on their next album, Chocolate Kings. Some might find this the weak point of the album as it could sit comfortably on the second Kansas album. But with flute and convoluted bass and drum interplay-nobody is mistaking this for Kansas. Awkward lyrics that seem like this is the sequel to Mr. 9 to 5 are one of the drawbacks (it's sometimes an advantage to speak little Italian-as subpar lyrics still sound magical!). Instruments fade as the vocals repeat the question 'Is my face on straight?' to side one's fade out.

Side two begins with the violin and percussion invitation to the dance-the distinctly tarantella infused La Luna Nuova (oddly retitled Four Holes in the Ground for their US/UK release). The repeating figure gives way to a joyous synth line rivaling the seminal E Festa (or Celebration in the States). This song is one of their epics-it builds from simplest to complex very quickly in several movements. Yes fans will resonate with this song that has sweeping slow mellotron lines that underpin convoluted synth, bass, guitar and drums chasing each other in something that could have been an outtake from Relayer. Dizzyingly good stuff. This is the one tune I'd play first for any prog fans trying to dip their toes into RPI. Second song on side two is the genteel and delicate Dolcissima Maria -an acoustic guitar and flute ballad that again has some Fripp-like leads (this time the jazzy first album stylings). It leads to an instrumental outtro melody that is one of their signature themes, and one of the only times I've seen people sing along with a song that has no words Final song Via Lumiere is the jazziest this band ever got close to with a bass solo intro from DJivas that veers into a quiet Weather Report section before Mussida and Pagani introduce a violin and electric guitar duet over complex drums from Di Coccio. Electric piano keeps a faint jazzrock vibe underneath as Djivas introduces some Chris Squire impressions on bass as the band heads off into the sunset with an elegiac touch. This instrumental song is another tune I'd play for non RPI prog fans.

Overall, this album is vastly superior to the US/UK version and is well worth tracking down. I'd only owned the US version on vinyl until I recently ran across a late 70's repress on Numero Uno. The sound quality is light years beyond my US copy of The World Became the World. Djivas' abilities on bass give the band yet another weapon in their bag of tricks to make this PFM's most varied and dangerous album in their whole catalogue. Its release in the UK (and minimally in the States) as an aforementioned drastically different version with English lyrics from Peter Sinfield is easier to find. HIghly recommended-one of the best albums from one of the best bands to ever come from Italy. This one transcends RPI and belongs with the best of all 70's prog. Five stars

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
3 stars PFM? PFM! In the grand scale of the RPI movement, there are three bands I commonly think of: Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Area, and Premiata Forneria Marconi, or PFM for abbreviation. PFM is kind of the most stand out and recognizable band of the whole RPI movement, kinda like how, say, Caravan was for the Canterbury Scene, or Can in the Krautrock department. There is a good reason why, they are not only the most accessible in terms of RPI, with all the weirdness of Area or the more psychedelic Le Orme, but their sound is very comfortable to get through in terms of symphonic and folk styles of progressive rock fans. Obviously, their most recognizable workings are Storia Di Un Minuto and Per Un Amico, or even the odd Photos Of Ghosts and Chocolate Kings, but recently I have been listening to their fourth (technically third since Photos Of Ghosts is a English remix album for Per Un Amico) studio album, L'isola Di Niente, quite a bit, and it does deliver in terms of some really golden RPI music, but it is not without its flaws..

Unlike the band's previous, more folk and classical sounding works of prog rock fare, L'isola Di Niente takes a different approach and instead implements more rock, jazz, and even slight bits of Gentle Giantesque experimental rock flairs, specifically with the last track of Via Lumiere. I think this new interpretation of PFM's sound definitely has its benefits, as it shows the band can dabble to more prog rock ideals than what they were comfortable doing within their last three records. Additionally, the focus on making their music more proggy in a sense is a great change of pace for me, as previous records had a lot more short handed songs, as opposed to here with the title track being this long and spiraling 10 minute piece. This album really does give itself a new PFM flair for appreciation.

I think that, while this change of direction is good for the band to take, I also feel like they are pulling their inspirations a bit too heavily here, and I think it became a bit of a habit later on with their next 2 records. While these songs are admittedly great, a lot of them feel very much like songs you'd hear from other bands, specifically Yes and Genesis. The guitar playing provided by Franco Mussida has the same flairs and catches as Steve Howe, and a lot of the keyboard playing elements from Flavio Premoli has a considerable Tony Banks aspects to them. They are sort of losing themselves within the threshold of their inspirations, and it is showing a bit more than usual. This, to me, is where I think PFM was losing their original magic, as, while this may sound like an original sound to PFM, they really aren't making it their own on here. It isn't bad to pull from your contemporaries or your inspirations, in fact that is how retro prog bands like The Flower Kings and Wobbler got their footing later on, but here, it, to me, PFM is starting to ditto out and become a bit of copycats, kinda like what bands like Gryphon would do with records like Treason later on after the prog rock hype died down in the late 70s.

This is far from a bad record, not by a long shot, but I cannot help but see it as far from an original and magical album. All of these songs are good and played to the best of the band's abilities, but I cannot help but find the abilities here to be in a rather muddy place. While I cannot say it is all downhill from here in terms of good music from the band, it is the beginning of a new, less PFM sounding PFM.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Still echoing the successful receptivity of the English-speaking market to "Photos Of Ghosts", the English-language adaptation of "Per Un Amico", Premiata Forneria Marconi releases in their mother tongue "L'Isola Di Niente", their fourth album. With an elaborated and muscular production, the ban ... (read more)

Report this review (#2950611) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Sunday, September 10, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #178 "L'isola di Niente" was the first PFM album to include bassist Patrick Djivas as a replacement of Giorgio Piazza and this new member brought a much jazzier style to the band, actually, this record sounds very fresh: in some way, the mix of symphonic, acoustic and rocky arrangements th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2654137) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The last of the first phase of PFM, and PFM's third-best album. L'isola Di Niente continues in much the same format as Per Un Amico, but with a harder edge, and the use of even more progressive rock staples (synth solos, etc), and with the addition of a choir at certain places (including opening ... (read more)

Report this review (#1702490) | Posted by Walkscore | Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is thrilling and extremely good music is what I will start to say about Premiata Forneria Marconi's fifth studio record from 1974. The only bad thing I have to say about it is that it is too short. First we meet a green record with a painting of a vulcano island in the middle and then com ... (read more)

Report this review (#1008104) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, July 29, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Third PFM album. A true masterpiece. MUSIC: 5/5 - The album can define the term "progressive" perfectly. Lots of feelings on 35 minutes. From complex L'Isola Di Niente, to groovy Is My Face On Straight, to impressive, beautiful, complex, La Luna Nuova, passing through simple (but one of the most ... (read more)

Report this review (#904314) | Posted by Wakefan | Friday, February 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars L'siola Di Niente is the last classic PFM album before lineup changes and pop influences crippled their sound. There is nothing much sonically and compositionally different from their previous two albums, their sound is still filled with countless catchy melodies and diverse instrumentation. However ... (read more)

Report this review (#843802) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Tuesday, October 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "L'isola Di Niente" is my third experience with PFM, one of the giants of RPI and what a pleasant experience it is. While not as cohesive as their two previous albums, the album offers ballads, jazz fusion, light-heartedness, and some good old RPI, all in one! We can see a mature PFM, pushing ... (read more)

Report this review (#306867) | Posted by Lark the Starless | Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Despite other magnificent releases from this fine band i find L'isola di Niente as the best album ever recorded by PFM in their whole career. This album contains the most charming andgorgeous melodies such as Docle Maria or La Luna Nuova, and from my humble point of view I have found PFM as a b ... (read more)

Report this review (#179975) | Posted by Ferrostaal | Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album took some time learning to love it. It was because when I got it I was searching more heavier and dynamic stuff. No I even think this is that kind of stuff. Second thing that made this album irritating was the childish arty feeling. Song lengths are nothing but there's some a bit smoo ... (read more)

Report this review (#143657) | Posted by progressive | Thursday, October 11, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars L'isola di Niente is a great album from PFM, but at the same time it feels like PFM abandoned the wonderful niche that they had just found on Per Un Amico.The album starts off with the title track which is a great song, but not my favorite from the album. The first two mintues or so has nothi ... (read more)

Report this review (#113337) | Posted by jfleischh | Friday, February 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I listen to PFM albums step-by-step. My first listening of this album was... AMAZING!!!!!! "Dolcissima Maria" made me cry. All album is beautiful... "molto belo, signore!!!". :-) The moogs and flute arrangements are incredible, mainly in track 3 "La Luna Nova"... PFM is the best prog band of Ita ... (read more)

Report this review (#108297) | Posted by sam_loyd | Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Let me explain first a bit. I bought this album being original Italian digipack. In the store, there was also its english version The world become the world (or somthing like that). I listen to both versions and without any doubt I bought this original. It has better sound (That's why I think, ... (read more)

Report this review (#99089) | Posted by Hejkal | Thursday, November 16, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I think for me "L'Isola Di Niente" is in my oppinion the last very good album of PFM (write a little review here because I just purchased this one to my collection). Fortunately mayority of vocals are in their own language (I don't understand why Italians must perform their vocals in English - ... (read more)

Report this review (#79307) | Posted by Rainer Rein | Thursday, May 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Work released in 1974 "L'Isola Di Niente". It was produced "The World Became The World" and simultaneously. Italian board of "The World Became The World". It differs from an English board, and "The World Became The World" is not collected. This album is also wonderful. PFM is a greatest treasu ... (read more)

Report this review (#63497) | Posted by braindamage | Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It was through this album i knew the even good italian prog. And to my surprise that moody choir became a great guitar riff and all the band playing this prog pearl "lisola di niente". "Is my face on the straight" is another song that i love, always seems to be floating, if it was in itali ... (read more)

Report this review (#16933) | Posted by | Friday, August 6, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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