Sunday, September 11, 2011

Premiata Forneria Marconi - The World Became The World (1974 italy, progressive rock, 2010 esoteric remaster - FLAC)

In Ernesto de Pascale's liner notes to Photos of Ghosts, PFM drummer Franz Di Cioccio is quoted as saying, "From the very beginning we decided that every PFM album had to be different from the previous one, even if it was a massive success...Every song belongs to an album that reflects a specific way of feeling and that was recorded in a specified period of time...If you are a professional musician, you always have to deal with your present, not only with your past." While each successive album in the group's Manticore run from 1973-1977 demonstrates unequivocal—in some cases, completely redefining—evolution, they're also clearly built on past lessons.

And so, while The World Became the World is an album that couldn't have existed without Photos of Ghostsbefore it, it's also a major step forward, in no small part due to the replacement of bassist Giorgio Piazza with Area's Patrick Djivas. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with Piazza, but Djivas possesses a voice instantly more dominant and immediate on the opening nearly 11-minute opener, "The Mountain," where his driving pulse elevates one of PFM's most exhilaratingly dramatic epics.

But before the group enters, there's a two-minute introduction, featuring an uncredited choir, that supports Cioccio's suggestion that, compositionally speaking, PFM never repeated itself. Mussida's choppy rhythm guitar signals the entry of the group, and his serpentine lines running underneath the vocal possess a more biting tone that adds to the album's more aggressive stance, also heard on tracks like "Is My Face on Straight?," which features a fluid flute solo from Pagani, over Djivas and De Cioccio at their funkiest, and "Have Your Cake and Beat It," that brings the introduction of Djivas as a significant new voice to the group full circle. His opening bass solo on this instrumental album closer is a virtuosic (and more self-directed) lead-in to a fiery 13/8 section where, with Pagani's violin soaring over Mussida's again choppy rhythm guitar, PFM moves towards a decidedly jazz-fusion approach it would explore further on subsequent records.

The World Became the World may hold some of PFM's most assertive playing to date, but the group's symphonic roots and Mediterranean tinges remain a part of its overall sound. "Just Look Away," propelled by Mussida's elegant classical and warm electric guitar overdubs, is another folkloric track, its pastoral ambiance supported by Pagani's violin, this time soft and lyrical, with Premoli's synths more orchestral in texture as one of PFM's most beautiful tunes leads to a descending four-chord pattern at the end that slowly builds with the addition of Premoli's expansive mellotron.

The title track is a re-recording of Storia di un minute's "Impressioni di settembre," already sonically improved over the Italian version but here, with Esoteric's remastering, sounding even bolder, more dramatic, as Premoli's memorable synth line winds its way through layers of mellotron, acoustic guitars and an overall vibe reminiscent of early Crimson.

"Four Holes in the Ground" is, perhaps, PFM at its transitional best; mellotron orchestrations supporting a classically informed vocal track that comes after an introductory section that, taking up nearly half of the song's six minute duration, builds to an elliptical theme that seems to accelerate, despite the time remaining fixed...until, that is, the song's end, where the instrumental opening is recapitulated before the theme is, indeed, sped up to a fever pitch that only suggests how it would ultimately sound in breathtaking live performance.

With the majority of The World Became the World recorded in London with its international audience in mind, PFM still released an Italian counterpart, L'Isola di niente (RCA, 1974), but without the rework of "Impressioni di settembre," bringing it down to a brief 35 minutes. While Italian takes of "The Mountain," "Just Look Away," "Four Holes in the Ground" and "Have Your Cake and Beat It" received Italian lyric treatments that many PFM fans still find preferable to their English language versions, PFM reversed Photos of Ghosts' assertion that, by including "Il Banchetto," it was still a decidedly Italian band (not that, with the group's heavily accented English, this was ever in question).

There are no Italian vocals to be found on The World Became the World, but L'Isola di niente does contain the English version of "Is My Face on Straight?," making it clear to its still significant Italian fan base, that PFM was now and English band. And by significantly re-sequencing the Italian version—with only the album opener and closer in their same positions—PFM also suggests that how its home audience perceived the overriding arc of the album was different than that of its growing intentional fan base.

Esoteric's reissue also includes an additional 12 minutes of bonus features. A single edit of "Four Holes in the Ground" supports its "previously unreleased" status, the edits choppy and destructive; the same can be said for a previously unreleased single edit of "Celebration" that suffers the same problems, and is surprisingly inferior to the single version included on Photos of Ghosts, given it's actually 24 seconds longer.

A UK single version of "La Carrozza di Hans," first released on Storia di un minute fares far better, though the addition of crowd noise at the beginning and end, to suggest it's live (when it isn't), doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Still, considering it's one of the group's earliest tracks, it positions well on The World Became the World, an album that found PFM moving in a new direction that would evolve even further with the release of Chocolate Kings.

By John Kelman

1. The Mountain - 10:46
2. Just Look Away - 4:02
3. The World Became The World - 4:48
4. Four Holes In The Ground - 6:22
5. Is My Face On Straight - 6:39
6. Have Your Cake And Beat It - 7:26
7. La Carozza Di Hans (UK single version) - 5:59
8. Four Holes In The Ground (Single Edit) - 3:22
9. La Carrozza Di Hans (Live) - 2:36

Premiata Forneria Marconi
*Franz Di Cioccio - Drums, Vocals, Percussion
*Jan Patrick Djivas - Bass, Vocals
*Franco Mussida - Electric, Acoustic Guitar, Vocal
*Mauro Pagani - Flute, Violin, Windwood, Vocal
*Flavio Premoli - Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Piano, Mellotron, Moog, Vocal

[Thank you MIF for sending this post]
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