Premiata Forneria Marconi - I Dreamed Of Electric Sheep,
Apart from diehard fans, I guess most progheads know about PFM primarily for their output in the Seventies, yet they have never gone away and have kept going with what I would consider to be minor line-up changes given their longevity. This album was released in 2021, more than 50 years on from the debut, still featuring founder drummer and lead singer Franz Di Cioccio, while bassist Patrick Djivas has been there since 1974, Lucio Fabbri (violin, viola) was there from 1979 for eight years before leaving and returning in 2002 while everyone else has also been there for quite a while. Founding keyboard player Flavio Premoli has also returned as a guest, while both Ian Anderson and Steve Hackett also pop into assist.
The version if have here is a double CD, with the album available both in English and Italian (‘Ho Sognato Pecore Elettriche’), and while the former allows the non-Italian speaker to understand the concept story, I must confess I prefer the Italian just because it flows that much better in their native tongue. Playing this reminded me of why I enjoyed PFM so much back in the day, yet it has also been brought up to date and while it still contains many of the RPI elements one would expect from one of the founders of the sub-genre (love the Mini Moog), there are also plenty of others which are far more Neo in their output. The guitar can be very rocky and biting at times, and the dated layered keyboard sounds work well with this more aggressive and powerful attack.
There are times when it becomes quite classical and symphonic, others when it is far more restrained and delicate, the result being an album which never sits in one musical area for too long before moving on. This does not sound like an album recorded by musicians who are no longer in their prime and they are certainly not just releasing an album they are hoping fans will purchase as this is something which is highly relevant and deserving of being uncovered by those who have not previously come across them. This can be vital and exciting, or laid-back and reserved, and one never knows where the music is going to head next as it twists and turns. I see I need to look back and investigate their more recent releases as this is a superb release which is worth investigation by all those who enjoy progressive rock.