Exposé Online banner

Presence — Masters and Following
(Black Widow BWR DIST 667, 2016, CD)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-07-07

Masters and Following Cover art

The gothic Italian neo-progressive band Presence is not a particularly prolific band — Masters and Following is only their fifth or sixth album since forming in 1994, and eight years since their previous album Evil Rose. Masters and Following is a double CD set with over two hours of music. Disc One is a studio album with ten new songs and three covers. Disc Two contains live performances of eight Presence songs plus an orchestral suite of music from Presence’s discography. Disc One is a concept album about the ignorance and helplessness of developed societies, an ambitious and over-the-top goal. The music is suitably dark, mixing aggressive heavy metal, neo-prog, and neo-classical music along with Sophya’s Baccini’s signature vocals. The first cover tune is an aggressive heavy gothic interpretation of Audience’s “House on the Hill” that is much more sinister than the original. The second is a cover of the 1984 Judas Priest song “Freewheel Burning.” Sophya’s vocal treatment is far superior to Judas Priest and with its machinegun drumming, Presence enhances this song. Presence’s cover of Sparks’ 1974 twee pop hit “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” slows the pace down with a sinister message and clean vocals. Even the 68 minutes of Disc One can be too much of a good thing listening to Sophya’s vocals. Her nasal soprano draws some comparisons to Kate Bush, but Sophya tends to sing the same notes, though in different combinations and permutations, from song to song, and that wears thin after a while. I would like to hear her broaden her range and emotions. As it is, after a few songs, I tend to welcome the moments when she is not singing as there is nothing new presented.

There is a lot of music to digest on these two discs. The sound quality of the live tracks is fairly decent, but Sophya’s vocals sound more like an audience recording than from the soundboard. The music is more proggy than the heavy metal tracks on the first disc, and includes live versions of songs from The Sleeper Awakes, Gold, and Black Opera. Of the eight live tracks, I only found “The Bleeding” and “Un Dì Quando le Veneri” of any interest. The orchestral suite includes songs from Makumba, The Sleeper Awakes, and Black Opera. This is an interesting approach to their back discography. But being unfamiliar with their earlier work, I am at a disadvantage regarding any comparisons. If you are a fan of gothic heavy metal and neo-prog, then Masters and Following will be for you.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Sophya Baccini, Presence

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Jeff Tarlton - Astral Years – I would bet money that Jeff Tarlton sleeps with a book of Kirouac's poems in his arms and Morrisons Van and Jim on his turntable (c'mon folks, it is so hip to have vinyl). Tarlton is an...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues