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

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nautilus - In Search of Castaways – The Prudence label based in Germany is well known for their output of nice, romantic music. This new release by a young band called Nautilus (Martin Ludwig: Keys, synthesizer and sequencer; Werner...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues