Premiata Forneria Marconi, PFM for short, have been the musical figurehead of so-called Italo-Prog, along with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, since the early 1970s. Now their new album "I Dreamed Of Electric Sheep" has been released, which refers to a science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick and the movie "Blade Runner" based on it.
FM are back - with a work that offers everything Italo-Prog fans could wish for. "I Dreamed Of Electric Sheep/Ho sognato pecore elettriche", which comprises two CDs or LPs containing the ten tracks of the work once in Italian, once in English, offers dramaturgically sophisticated music that occasionally moves on the edge of sentimentalism, but ultimately is always at home in the inspiring drama. If you're looking for prog with lush emotions and a Southern European playfulness, you'll definitely find it here. Content-wise anyway: the work is imbued with the spirit of Ridley Scott's cult science fiction film "Blade Runner", which was released in 1982 and contributed significantly to the fame of the author of the novel, Philip K. Dick, who died the same year. "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" dealt with the subject of artificial intelligence and the ethical issues involved as early as 1968, telling of androids with feelings that are almost indistinguishable from real people. Last but not least, Corona Virus also made an important contribution to the creation of the new PFM album, which was essentially penned by singer and drummer Franz Di Cioccio and bassist and keyboardist Patrick Djivas. The exciting work was the occasion for an equally exciting conversation with the two.
eclipsed: What influence did the Covid 19 pandemic have on the new album?
Franz Di Cioccio: An absolutely crucial one! We had a long tour behind us after the last album and actually a whole series of concerts ahead of us. When the virus hit Italy, that was over all at once. Suddenly we had a lot of time, which we actually couldn't use as musicians.
Patrick Djivas: But pretty quickly we understood that this virus would not disappear for the foreseeable future. So let's get to work! Those were the circumstances under which the new album grew.
eclipsed: You cite the science fiction film classic "Blade Runner" and its literary model "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by cult author Philip K. Dick as sources of inspiration for this. Are they the spiritual essence of the whole thing?
Cioccio: Absolutely! Both book and film are definitely essential for us. They also complement each other wonderfully. You get a completely unique world, a vision for the rather abstract future.
Djivas: For me, the defining moment is that androids have human emotions. This realization is as fascinating as it is scary. Anyway, as far as I know, the new record is the first to actually bring together old-fashioned prog with artificial intelligence. (laughs)
eclipsed: Do you remember when the first ideas for the concept album came up?
Cioccio: I already had it myself in 2017, long before the Corona outbreak. I have always been fascinated by the film "Blade Runner", this dark and yet classically romantic. Very quickly I had ideas not only for the lyrics, but also for a partly melancholic, partly massive music. I'm a big fan of the "Blade Runner" soundtrack, which in turn comes from synth great Vangelis.
Djivas: The band was pretty quickly enthusiastic about this idea that Franz explained to us. Everything happened quite quickly by our standards. We were surprised about it ourselves. But I think this project was worth it.