Presence, an Italian band from Naples, is formed in the late eighties. The group consists now out of singer/pianist Sophya Baccini, the multi-instrumentalist Enrico Iglio and guitarist Sergio Casamassima. Sophya is the daughter of a tenor and she has consistently worked on her vocal (opera) technique. Enrico studied percussion, piano and composition/orchestration at the Academy of music. Sergio is a graduate of the Los Angeles Guitar Institute of Technology.
After “The Sleeper Awakes”, “Gold”, “Black Opera” and “The Sleeper Awakes” this “Masters and Following” is probably their fifth effort on the Black Widow Records label. “Masters and Following” is essentially a political statement facing the drift and total lack of current company goals, observed from a cultural, religious and scientific point of view. It is about the taking of human consciousness, of absolute ignorance and helplessness of developed societies.
Sophya Baccini - vocals; Enrico Iglio - keyboards, percussion; Sergio Casamassima - guitars
Sergio Quagliarella - drums
Mino Berlano a bass
“Masters and Following” is a 2CD set that consists out of the new studio album “Masters and Following” and as a bonus a live CD with previous works of the band. But we will concentrate on the new studio album. You can find 13 tracks on this album. Three of them are covers. “House on the Hill” (Audience), “This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us” (Sparks) and “Freewheel Burning” (Judah's Priest). It is nice to hear those melodies of that Sparks song again, a well done cover.
But what about the music of Presence. You can find the following 10 Presence compositions on this album: “Masters and Following”, “Deliver”, “Now”, “Interlude”, “Space Ship Ghost”, “Prelude”, “Symmetry”, “Collision Course”, “One The Eastern Side” and “The Revealing”.
The album opens with the title track “Masters and Following”. I like the slow classical opening but soon the metal influences are shining through the music. As you all know by now I am not so into metal but this opener has it's moments with nice and dark orchestrations. But I love the slow classical parts better that the metal influences. The opera influences of Sophya are also noticeable and the ending of the song is strong.
“Deliver” has also a beautiful opening but then the song develops into a heavy and hectic piece of music. But then suddenly the music is changing again and you can enjoy great keyboard orchestrations and opera-like vocals. “Now” starts with a delicious and melodic electric guitar solo. This piece has more melodic parts and the vocal lines are great. The short and instrumental “Interlude” has a beautiful keyboard orchestration. “Space Ship Ghost” is also instrumental and opens with mysterious synths and later on you can enjoy Keith Emerson like keyboard parts and soaring guitar work. I would also mention the great drum parts in this track.
“Prelude” has beautiful classical orchestrations and delicate piano parts. The up-tempo “Symmetry” opens with some Apollo communication samples and you can find some hectic and heavy guitar parts in this track. “Collision Course” is more my cup of tea. Passionate sung vocals, great guitar, organ and keyboard parts in a track with a dark heavy and brooding atmosphere. After the short “The Eastern Side” the album closes with the song “The Revealing”. With a duration of more than nine minutes this is the longest composition of this album. Also in this piece you can find passionate sung vocals, heavy guitar solo's and amazing keyboard parts. For me one of the highlights of this good album. The keyboard parts on this album several times reminded of the master Keith Emerson.
“Masters and Following” is a good album. But I think that the covers are breaking the consistency or balance of this album a little bit. I prefer the real Presence compositions. Keyboard player Enrico Iglio impressed me with his beautiful, dark and often classical keyboard orchestrations. The music is on the heavy and dark side of the progressive spectrum. For me and all the other music lovers who where not so familiar with the music of Presence the live CD with some previous works of the band is a welcome addition and a great bonus.