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

2021-04-01
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more

2021-03-25
Return of Jerry Lucky's Progressive Rock Files – After much consideration and surprisingly, positive feedback, Jerry Lucky is announcing the launch of the progressive Rock Files podcast, featuring the latest progressive rock music from around the world. » Read more

2021-03-14
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more

2021-03-11
RIP Roger Trigaux – The sad news has come to our attention that Roger Trigaux, the guiding force of Present and former member of Univers Zero, passed away on the evening of March 10, 2021 after a long ilness. » Read more

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Lenny White - Venusian Summer & Big City – Looking back thirty years later on the “golden age” of jazz-rock fusion, we tend to focus on the super tight unison lines and complex rhythmic structures of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues