Exposé Online banner

Alembic Virtual — Müsikaall
(Pick Up Records PKPROG1901, 1994, CD)

Presence — The Sleeper Awakes
(Black Widow BWRCD 006-2, 1995, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-03-01

Müsikaall Cover artThe Sleeper Awakes Cover art

For those who enjoy a dark and sinister progressive rock fronted by female vocals – in the vein of Tale Cue, Stromboli, and the like – these two releases are essential listening. Both are totally over-the-top and out of control, but the Presence gets the title of being the darkest, the rock rhythms criss-crossed by angular and frightening organ chords, guitars growling and churning underneath, while the rhythm section – ready to jump into high gear at a moment's notice – changes pace frequently and keeps the material moving in unpredictable directions. Vocalist Sophya Baccini delivers a powerful leading vision to this equivalent of a progressive rock excorcism, mostly in English, with bits of Latin, French, and other languages thrown in from time to time, sometimes treated or double-tracked for the added sinister effect. On "Wiled" she belts out a bluesy number, showcasing an entirely different side – that seems a mite incongruous with the rest of the material here, but impressive nonetheless. There are a couple of instrumental numbers as well, which break up the album nicely.

Four-piece Alembic Virtual takes a more reserved metallic approach, perhaps closer to bands like Asgard and Garden Wall, with vocalist / keyboardist Ega's ethereal and dreamlike voices mutating into an aggressive near-nightmarish passion, driving the band further and further into this apocalyptic rock vision. The composition style is probably even more original and unpredictably arranged than Presence, and the band moves easily between a variety of styles. Vocals are again primarily in English, sometimes with the unlikely twist of combining sung vocals double-tracked with the same lyrics spoken, or with heavy echo effects. The keyboards are heavy on the string synths, which add a wispy effect to even the most forceful passages, yet this band remains a powerhouse of subtle and overt dynamics. One might also be reminded of bands like The 3rd and The Mortal, especially during the near unaccompanied vocal passages. Both of these albums are full-throttle smokers, recommended for fans of a more aggressive female-fronted sound.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 9, 1994 releases, 1995 releases

Related artist(s): Sophya Baccini, Alembic Virtual, Presence

Latest news

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Red Jasper - The Winter's Tale – More three-four chord neo-progressive? Have that craving for shrill digital patches and maybe, just maybe another vocalist who got locked in a room full of old Marillion records? Well, not exactly —...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues