On November 7, 2013

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 time for the rebirth of progressive music. In 1994, Black Widow and PRESENCE teamed up to create and co-produced "THE SLEEPER AWAKES", a concept album, clocking in at over an hour in length, sung mostly in English, with additional lyrics in French, German and Latin. For this outing, the group recorded some tracks with the string section of the Symphony Orchestra of the S. Carlo Opera Theater of Naples. Several local and foreign music journalists chose "THE SLEEPER AWAKES" as their Record of the Year for 1994.

In 1996 PRESENCE went back to basics with its founding members, who wrote, played and produced their fourth album, "BLACK OPERA". This time, Black Widow acted as executive producers, and distributed the album as a double CD as well as a double vinyl version. "BLACK OPERA" is an hour and a half piece of music whose highlight is a twenty minute suit, dedicated to the 18th century Italian classical composer Giuseppe Verdi, featuring arrangement of four romanzas taken from 4 of the Maestro's different operas: "TROVATORE", "RIGOLETTO", "LA FORZA DEL DESTINO" and "TRAVIATA".

This album sold well right from the start, garnering significant attention among rock fans in Japan, where it was printed in a local-friendly version.

PRESENCE ranked among the first in the yearly poll of the readers of magazine "FLASH EUROPA" in the categories Best Italian band, while Sophya Baccini ranked fourth Best Rock Vocalist in the world.

In 1997 two Progressive Rock encyclopedias, one published in Italy and the other published throughout Europe included "BLACK OPERA" and "THE SLEEPER AWAKES" in their selected discography.

In 1998 Black Widow published a compilation dedicated to horror movies, "E TU VIVRAI NEL TERRORE" (AND YOU WILL LIVE IN TERROR), in which PRESENCE recorded a song inspired by the movie "THE EXORCIST". The cover was designed by H.R. Giger (creator of the ALIEN series). This double CD was also distributed in bookstores as well as typical CD outlets and included an attached booklet. For this effort, PRESENCE earned special mentions from American and German critics, who rated them one of the best of the twenty-plus groups included in the compilation, which also featured contributions from such acts as Japan's ARS NOVA and Enrico Simonetti of GOBLIN.

In 2000, Black Widow, published an anthology titled "BLACK WIDOW", dedicated to the celebrated British band of the 70s of the same name. PRESENCE contributed their own arrangement of the track "ATTACK OF THE DEMON". The band received a personal letter from the author of the song, Clive Jones, who wrote that their arrangement of the track was his favorite.

In March of 2001, PRESENCE released the one hour plus "GOLD", their fifth album on both CD and vinyl. In the tradition of the band, GOLD is concept album, this time inspired by a science fiction story written by Virginia Stait in 1932, "PLANET OF THE WITCHES". Acting once again like executive producer, Black Widow distributed the album in Italy on the "Self" label. The album included two bonus tracks in agreement with the distributors in England, Holland, Germany, and US. It was also released in Asia. As further proof of the evolution of their sound, which PRESENCE regard as one of the essentials component of their music, the album contains an original twenty-minute suite as well as simpler tracks lasting shortly over 3 and a half minutes. The recording alternates between acoustic themes and harder-edge songs inspired by classic Metal, in order to captivate the attention of a wider public.

In 2003 PRESENCE release a new compilation dedicated to science fiction movies, "NOT OF THIS EARTH" in which the group plays an original song called "CONTACT "inspired by the film of the same name. This triple CD/quadruple vinyl release was shipped with a booklet.

In 2004 the band reprinted their second effort, "THE SLEEPER AWAKES" as a double CD along with a live album.

In 2008 PRESENCE release the album "THE EVIL ROSE" which contains, among original songs, the cover of Queen "The Prophet song" and the Rainbow's "Gates of Babylon". The CD is very nice graphics, a magipack with a 20 page inner booklet inside.

Source: Progarchives


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