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

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Robert Dick - Third Stone from the Sun – Robert Dick is probably the world's leading proponent of avant-garde flute techniques. His recordings and teachings, including the well-known The Other Flute have opened up literally a whole new...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues