Not to be confused with around half a dozen bands with the same name this particular band from Italy basically comprise of three top notch Neapolitan session musicians who joined forces to record their self-financed private limited edition vinyl concept EP entitled "The Shadowing”. Actually it would be interesting to know the value of this EP on the record collectors market? Anyway, the basic idea behind such a collaboration was to experiment with a progressive style rock music set within an envelope of much harder metal style rock.
The confusing thing about the album being reviewed here is that there seems to be very little information available in terms of onsite information, for example their web site is currently (as of August 2017) under construction and face book turns up nothing at all about the band except for a few posted tracks. I’m also not at all sure whether this massive double albums worth of material is a mixture of new and old tracks or in fact recently released, there are no dates shown or other recording information I can see. The album title “Masters and Following” kind of suggests that is a collection or anthology.
The total album as a package comprises both a set of thirteen studio tracks (CD1) and a set of eight live tracks with an additional six orchestral arrangements (CD2) all packaged and distributed by “Black Widow Italy”
From start to finish the music is swathed with complicated arrangements of magnificent lead guitar (Sergio Baccini) and battalions of keyboard interjections (Enrico Iglio) coming at you from all angles and this basic framework is further endorsed by the totally commanding and exclusively female vocal projections (Sophya Baccini) dipping and diving over and around in contrasting melodic patterns to fully enhance the overall sound.
Drafted in to swell the ranks to a five piece band (they also support the band in live situations) are another two wonderful session musicians in the form of Sergio Quaglirella on drums and Mino Berlano bass who both expand the sound greatly to pin down the time keeping side of things to strictly administered tempos and rhythms which in turn gives the lead instruments the freedom to flourish and develop the music into the various combinations of light and shade.
Sections of the music take on a distinctly “Nightwish” feel certainly from the music angle but the vocals are, although very extensive in range, more rock orientated as opposed to operatic in style. There is no doubt that all these guys are first class musicians and this is apparent from the way the music diverges throughout the varies tracks with the odd snatch of classical, jazz and other forays into symphonic, heavy metal, rock and progressive rock avenues. A great cover too of “House on the Hill” is quite magical.
Summary: A good solid double album of mostly self-penned tracks and a few covers. The second CD is a live in concert session. Certainly a collection worth having
Artwork: A comprehensive booklet to a degree but lacking important information such as recording dates, recording studios and live venues. Also lacking contact information. No information found on Black Widow web site either?
Some Additional Basic:-
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.