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PRESENCE

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Presence biography
PRESENCE formed in the early 90s, when they completed their first recording, the concept EP "THE SHADOWING". The group consists of three well known Neapolitan session musicians: singer/pianist SOPHYA BACCINI, multi-instrumentalist ENRICO IGLIO, and guitarist SERGIO CASAMASSIMA .

All three musicians are musically trained, sight-readers. What makes Presence different than their peers is the emphasis they have placed on their musical studies: Sophya Baccini, daughter of a tenor, has worked continuously to perfect her vocal technique, then blues-oriented, complementing it with operatic studies.

Enrico Iglio, who represents the third generation of a musical family, attended a private Musical Academy, studying percussion, composing, and orchestration. Sergio Casamassima, also belonging to the third generation of a musical family, studied classical guitar and is a graduate of Los Angeles' Guitar Institute of Technology.

"THE SHADOWING", a limited-edition, vinyl-only, self-produced effort, was the result of Presence's need to explore a new musical genre that hadn't yet made its appearance on either the Italian or the global scene. PRESENCE played a form of heavy rock with a decidedly progressive accent, and then fused it with symphonic elements. In an effort typical of the best musical experiments of the 80s the band took a lot of care to their arrangements; dedicating a great deal of time to sound research, this type of commitment was exactly what you would expect from people with a solid musical background and experience in recording studios.

This experimental recording, that in some ways was almost an experiment for the band, yielded very positive results: PRESENCE has a unique sound that sounded fantastic when played live with the addition of a rhythm section: drummer Sergio Quagliarella, and bass player Emiliano De Luca. This line-up had its debut recording released in January 1992 with the self-produced "MAKUMBA", a full-length album only available on CD. The recording stirred the interest of many alternative Italian labels, and was extremely well-received by the music press and critics in general.

The CD was accompanied by the release of a digital video of the second song on the album, "Left Hand Cross".

Thanks to the buzz generated by "MAKUMBA", PRESENCE started working with Black Widow, a Genoa-based record company, founded by passionate progressive music fans. The founders of Black Widow had been waited a long ti...
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Smash 1993
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PRESENCE discography


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PRESENCE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 4 ratings
Makumba
1992
3.22 | 8 ratings
The Sleeper Awakes
1994
2.83 | 11 ratings
Black Opera
1996
2.69 | 7 ratings
Gold
2001
2.50 | 7 ratings
Evil Rose
2008
4.07 | 5 ratings
Masters and Following
2016

PRESENCE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.50 | 2 ratings
The Sleeper Awakes + Live
2004

PRESENCE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

PRESENCE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

PRESENCE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.67 | 3 ratings
The Shadowing
1990

PRESENCE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Masters and Following by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.07 | 5 ratings

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Masters and Following
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by proghaven

4 stars No idea why Presence was classified here as 'Rock Progressivo Italiano'. They are definitively not followers of PFM, Banco, Apoteosi, Locanda Delle Fate, Quella Vecchia Locanda etc. This amazing Italian band born in late 1980s performs a unique version of progressive metal. I would describe it as keyboard dominated prog metal with female vocals. (By the way, really brilliant vocals, not to be forgotten!) This very individual musical direction naturally had to lead the band's evolution to something anti-metal sooner or later. And voila! - here's its current stage: residually metal (though still quite heavy...) but excessively progressive I'd say. Almost every next bar is difficult to predict. The band's music became now so refined that from time to time it sounds close to medieval. So complex that often symphonic. So sophisticated that sometimes tending to avant prog. Of course this was not totally unexpected, the foundation stone was laid down back in 2000 (stunning Carnival from their masterpiece Gold)...

The latest album from Presence is, unlike their earlier ones, irregularly built. A lot of dynamism & action in each minute of playing time, but noticeably less action in almost every track in its entirety, and much (very much!) less action in the entire album. Probably that's why the whole matter of Masters And Following seems somewhat crumbly and marshy. Multiple but small islands of clarity among the vacillating matrix which a listener risks to fall through. In other words, the album is knocked together not strongly enough though full of really fruitful musical ideas. This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us should be marked a highlight, it's extremely atypical for the band's style.

The 'bonus' part (disc two) contains interesting re-arrangements of old songs, but how could synth drums penetrate instrumentations called 'orchestral'... A strange combination.

In brief, Masters And Following is an essential chapter in the musical novel named Presence, but Gold still remains their very best (at least to me, though I'm not a conservator at all).

A disturbing component of the whole structure is greetings from Judas Priest (Freewill Burning under Presence's sauce). Wish it was rejected.

 Evil Rose by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.50 | 7 ratings

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Evil Rose
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Entering the millenium Presence were someone put on hold, as Sophya Baccini focused on her personal career.The 2002 ''The Sleeper Awakes + Live'' album gives a taste of the band's live activity, but the next year Baccini made her first composing attempt, writing a track for the ''Kalevala'' compilation of Musea Records.Over the next years she participated in various works as guest singer, like on Greenwall's ''From the treasure box'' or Malaavia's ''Vibrazioni liquide''.By the time she was writing material for her debut Presence returned as well after 8 years with new drummer Valerio Silenzi to release their fifth studio album, also the fifth one for the Black Widow label, entitled ''Evil rose''.

What had really hurt Presence over the years was actually their lack of sound development.Listening to ''Evil rose'', you get the idea it was pretty much written around the same time with ''Makumba''.The style is stable on a bombastic and operatic Symphonic/Heavy Prog with a very dark atmosphere and changing images between hard guitar runs and Classical-drenched organ themes, full of sudden breaks and orchestral flourishes.There is plenty of room for Baccini to come up with some extreme vocal exercises: operatic, distorted and more melodic vocal lines.But the whole feeling you finally get is that you still listen to a previous work by the band.The different variations seem not very tightly connected, the mass of shifting moods will eventually confuse the listener, although Presence is a skillful group to say the least.Fiery guitar solos, spacey keyboard lines, grandiose orchestral movements and punchy riffing are their basic elements, the ones that made the band well-known over the year along with the passionate rhythmic parts.Additionally this work is way too long, clocking at 70 minutes of similar-sounding music, that becomes annoying in the way.The 18-min. long title track is the best proof of Presence's ability to compose uneven still decent tracks.A very long introduction and some dissonant parts are pretty flat and uninteresting, but the guitar solos, the organ washes and the nice, melodic ending theme are quite nice.

The following year Baccini released her first album ''Aradia'' and Presence's activity has been ice cold for some years now, I guess the future of the band is rather questionable.

If ''Evil rose'' marks your first attempt to meet Presence, it will be propably a pretty good listening experience.But the lack of progress of the band over the timeline is not an advantage.Too long and sterile at moments, this album heads to fans of the band and die-hard Heavy Prog lovers...2.5 stars.

 Gold  by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.69 | 7 ratings

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Gold
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars The new millenium found Presence without a regular drummer but that woould not stop the band from participating on the Black Widow compilation ''Children of Black Widow'', a tribute to the 70's Black Widow band, covering the ''Attack of the demon''.At the same time the trio of Baccini, Casamassima and Iglio (also responsible for the drum work this time) got prepared for the band's fourth studio album.This was entitled ''Gold'', inspired by Virginia Stait's novel ''The witches planet'' and eventually released in 2001.

This is another effort which shows that Presence seem stuck on the style already known from ''Makumba'' with little changes during the passing time.But what this band does, it does it good.Heavy Symphonic Prog with a bombastic and grandiose sound with hard-sounding guitars, sometimes distorted, clean and almost operatic female vocals and a pounding rhythm section.There are even occasional steps into the Classical/Avant territory with strong piano themes but the general picture remains a really powerful style in the vein of DEVIL DOLL, and that is symphonic arrangements with energetic rhythms, plenty of solos, atmospheric keyboard/piano/organ work and a deep and dark mood throughout.Meanwhile Baccini's performance remains still an ace for the band.A great female singer with an angry, theatrical and expressive voice, often leading the music to where she wants.But the total absence of diversity in Presence's offerings is possible to bother some listeners.

Dark, orchestral Symphonic Prog is once more the proposal of Presence.No signs of a true sound development but also no signs the band has lost the inspiration in what they do.Recommended.

 Evil Rose by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.50 | 7 ratings

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Evil Rose
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by toroddfuglesteg

2 stars Presence is Sophya Baccini's daytime job and band. A band listed as a Rock Progressivo Italiano band.

What we get here is heavy prog though with a lot of prog metal and British female fronted prog elements too. Sophya Baccini adds a lot of colours to their music though. At times, her vocals comes across as an early Kate Bush. As stated above, this album feels like one of these albums coming from Panic Room or Karnataka. British female fronted prog rock in other words. Commercial and song focused prog rock.

The music is not particular interesting unless this type of music appeals to you. The quality of the songs here are not that great either. The music feels a bit generic and this album is desperate needing a spark plug or ten. Sophya Baccini is the only saving grace here and there is not enough of her to save this album. Decent, but dull.

2 stars

 Black Opera by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.83 | 11 ratings

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Black Opera
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Presence released their third album two years after ''The Sleeper Awakes''.No line-up changes this time,the band continues with a duo of drummers and records their second album on Black Widow.The title was ''Black opera'' and the release year 1998.

The title of the album somewhat describes the overall sound,operatic Symphonic Rock/Metal,but for the first half of the album we are in front of the weakest Presence release so far.Not really bad,but the trio leans much more towards the heavier side of prog with emphasis on the haunting atmosphere ala DEVIL DOLL,the bombastic orchestral keyboards and the ultra-pounding rhythm section,forgetting to produce the good melodies of their debut,the memorable material of their sophomore effort or some trully inspiring music.But from ''On travel'' and on the old and good ''Presence'' are back,especially on the excellent Giuseppe Verdi tribute suite.Superb guitar solos,fantastic operatic vocals by Sophya Baccini finally in Italian,great spacey synths and lovely piano work,the album really takes off after the middle,being a really great Rock Opera with a grandiose sound few can create.

''Black opera'' is the most uneven Presence effort to this point of their career.Bland cliche Orchestral Prog for the first part,awesome operatic Progressive Rock for the second.Definitely though an album to be recommended,particularly for the superb atmosphere on the Verdi- related 18-min. suite.

 The Sleeper Awakes  by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.22 | 8 ratings

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The Sleeper Awakes
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars With a couple of line-up changes after ''Makumba'',the PRESENCE trio now with a new drummer moves on to the recordings of a sophomore release.The band from Napoli collaborated this time with the San Carlo Theatre strings orchestra to add some more depth to the sound.The brand new release from 1994 carried the title ''The Sleeper Awakes''.

This one finds the band stepping on a similar style like their debut,impressive Prog Rock/Metal with grandiose keyboards and bombastic riffing.But this time ''The Sleeper Awakes'' sounds rather darker than ''Makumba''.More complex interplays,more grandiose sound and plenty of haunting vocal deliveries.The orchestra remains on the background,adding an even more symphonic feeling at the mellow breaks.Present are always the virtuosic solos both on keyboards and guitars.What I am missing are the splendid melodies of the previous work,which are now very limited for the sake of darkness.However the band still competes at a decent level with professional musicianship...and it is always a nice experience to listen to Sophya' Baccini's well-worked operatic vocals.

The production is again a plus with excellent mix,so if you like metallic Symphonic Prog with plenty elements from Opera,''The sleeper awakes'' is a good purchase.Slightly worse than ''Makumba'',but still recommended.

 Makumba  by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.17 | 4 ratings

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Makumba
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars An Italian heavy symphonic group,PRESENCE belong among the bands of the late-80's/early- 90's return of Italian prog,and were formed and guided by gifted female singer Sophya Baccini,guitarist Sergio Casamassima and keyboardist Enrico Iglio.After the EP ''The Shadowning'',they focused on recording,releasing and performing their first full-length album ''Makumba'',which saw the light in 1992.

''Makumba'' is a decent release,a borderline Prog Rock/Metal album with bombastic keyboards,melodic guitar solos and high-pitched vocals by Baccini.The musicianship is not that complex,the album contains mainly short tracks with a standard structure. Complicated bass lines,symphonic synth parts,strong drumming and heavy but not metallic guitar work create a very rich,up-tempo and grandiose style,however far from the world personal.Baccini's vocals are good,twisting from angry singing to more sensitive lines.The result can be compared to other contemporary modern symphonic acts,such as DEVIL DOLL (but with a brighter style of course),CAIRO (but less complex) and ENTRANCE (the closest comparison).

The album flows nice and easy,it has a nice production and a trully majestic atmosphere,but doesn't deserve any praise regarding its originality.A good album for fans of fast 'n' furious,heavy and mainly keyboard-driven prog sound.

 Gold  by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2001
2.69 | 7 ratings

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Gold
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

2 stars With a name like PRESENCE and the fact that they're on the "Black Widow" label I thought this would be a Gothic album. It's really not dark at all and this Italian band uses English lyrics which is too bad because it's obvious it's not their first language (or second ?) yes they are that bad. They are a trio with bass, guitar, drums and female vocals.

"Scarlet" opens with atmosphere (I wish there more of this on the album) as heavy drums and guitar join in. Vocals a minute in. Nice guitar solo after 4 minutes. "The Conjuration Of Stronghold Lodge" does not sound good vocally to start. Grating is the word. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes and the drums are heavy. Guitar solo follows. Sampled spoken words after 3 minutes. It kicks back in before 4 1/2 minutes. Vocals are back before 7 minutes. Not a fan of this song.

"Lightening" opens with sparse piano as vocals cry out. Drums 1 1/2 minutes in as it builds. Vocals are back. "Carnival" features almost spoken vocals as the heaviness arrives.The tempo and mood shifts a lot in this one. This is the most inventive track but i'm not buying. "Blockade Ruuner" puts the focus on the vocals. Some raw guitar before 2 minutes. Nice. Vocals are back after 6 minutes. A good heavy rhythm a minute later. "Gold" is mid paced although it slows down at times. Again the vocals are the focus. Piano comes and goes as well. "If It Runs Away" is the one track I like. It's laid back with guitar and vocals.

Fans only.

 Evil Rose by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 2008
2.50 | 7 ratings

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Evil Rose
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

3 stars Italian band Presence is a kind of mystery, releasing albums each 4 or 5 years. Evil Rose (2008) is their latest and it was released by the also Italian Label Black Widow.

The group is a trio formed by Sophya Baccini (vocals), Sergio Casamassima (guitars and bass) and Enrico Iglio (keyboards). They also had Valerio Silenzi (drums) as a guest musician. The album starts in the same similar path as Lacrimosa does. The Gothic element is really evident as well in tracks like 'Cassandra'. 'Evil Rose' is a story with more than 18 minutes long where, as in the album as a whole, Sophya Baccini vocals are the main thing. We can also hear some Doom Metal on 'Subterreans'.

One of the things that really caught my attention here is a version of 'The Prophet's Song', originally on the album At Night At The Opera (1975) from Queen. But this version is completely useless, so, skip it.

In general the album isn't that bad, but the drum sound kill everything that could be good here. In general if you like Gothic music, go for it.

2.5 really!

Key track: Evil Rose

 Black Opera by PRESENCE album cover Studio Album, 1996
2.83 | 11 ratings

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Black Opera
Presence Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

1 stars Third of fourth album from this Italian formation that helped fill the void in Prog's darkest hours, so they had the merit to exist as did their label. Black Opera on the Black Widow label!! Coincidence? Well I think you are starting to understand what kind of music we are dealing with. And as much as this writer tries to be fair with this kind of product of its time, the very same object gives the very same human some real challenging reasons to remain diplomatic AND sincere. This is exactly the kind of album that cumulates all the ridiculous clichés from awful 80's-sounding drumming, to a heroic-fantasy artwork, grandiosely cheap digital synths, kitschy metal guitar strumming, the inevitable classical borrowings and high- pitched female moewings. Let me check if I didn't introduce a Pallas album in my deck by mistake.

Certainly a product of its time, and probably answering to certain kind of necessity, this album's qualities are certainly outlasted by the damage it has caused to the "cosa nostra" (only the pun is intended here ;-) of prog. Sometimes sincerity - even in terms of a solid slap to hard working musicians - is better than diplomacy - in terms of immediately regretted financial "investments" (that my diplomacy ;-) - for finding solutions to deceptions. So much for this ambassador's immunity!!!

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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