May 19, 2013

Sundaze 1320

Hello, Europe calling, here are our 125,000,000  votes, yes it was that time of the year again the Eurovision night, no less then 39 countries got to vote and the bookie's favorite, Emmelie de Forest, won. Not my choice, too flat and readymade for me, that it won just proves that many have been brainwashed into liking this kind of music fast-food, a forgetable song.  But it's good to have 39 countries compete in a friendly way, where each has a say in the outcome an estimated 125 million viewers saw the show which is great but will be easily surpassed next week with the Championsleague final, even if it's an all German one.

He's been a man in the background, unassuming but he's been present so many times ..... N'Joy

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Richard Barbieri (born 30 November 1957, in London, England)  was educated at Catford Boys' School, Catford, South East London. Originally coming to prominence in the late-1970s and early-1980s as a member of new wave pioneers Japan (and their brief 1989–1990 reincarnation as Rain Tree Crow), he is now best known as the keyboard player in the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, of which he has been a member since 1993. Despite being known for work in bands with prominent musicianship, Barbieri's key skill lies not in virtuoso instrumental performance, but in developing and processing synthetic electronic sound. This is either generated entirely by keyboard input or by processing a sound source from a musical collaborator.

During his time with Japan, Barbieri worked (with the assistance of lead singer/occasional keyboard player David Sylvian) on programming the band's analogue (and early digital) synthesizers to create original sounds and textures. On record, these were played by whichever member of Japan could interpret the performance best (generally drummer Steve Jansen, as "he had the best timing.") Barbieri would, however, perform the bulk of the keyboard playing live. His keyboard-playing role in Porcupine Tree is similarly split with frontman/producer Steven Wilson, with Barbieri processing the sound of other musicians in the band as well as playing more orthodox keyboard parts.

Despite his emphasis on sonic experimentation, Barbieri is also an accomplished keyboard player who has become more overtly traditional in his playing during his years with Porcupine Tree (and who currently plays electric and acoustic pianos and Mellotrons in addition to his analogue-styled synthesizer work).

After the break-up of Japan, Barbieri continued his association with David Sylvian, playing on the latter's early solo albums (and on the 1986 In Praise Of Shamans tour). During this time he worked alongside such other innovators as Holger Czukay, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Robert Fripp. In 1987 he started a long musical association with another Japan colleague, Steve Jansen. This has produced six collaborative albums to date, initially under the name The Dolphin Brothers (Catch the Fall, 1987) and later as Jansen & Barbieri (including Stories Without Borders, 1993,Worlds in a Small Room, 1996, and Stone to Flesh, 1997).

The Rain Tree Crow collaboration was short-lived due to David Sylvian's assumption of control over the project (which he claims was necessary for financing but which the other members saw as controlling arrogance). The group parted company shortly after recording the album, for which there was no supporting tour. However, the project was key to the reuniting of Jansen, Barbieri and Karn as a creative unit (sometimes referred to as "JBK").

In 1993 Barbieri formed the Medium Productions label in 1993 with Jansen and Karn. Their objective was to enable themselves to create music and collaborate with fellow musicians on projects without record company interference and restriction. They kicked off the label with the Jansen/Barbieri/Karn album Beginning to Melt (a collection of varied pieces including some trio work and other recordings featuring various permutations of the basic trio with other collaborators including David Torn and Robbie Aceto). Thirteen diverse albums were released during a ten-year period; Jansen and Barbieri's collaboration with DJ Takemura on the album Changing Hands being one of the highlights. During this period Barbieri also made two other collaborative albums, one with his wife Suzanne J. Barbieri under the name Indigo Falls (1996), and one with Tim Bowness from the band No-Man titled Flame (1994).

In late 1993 Barbieri joined the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree (having previously played as a guest performer on the album Up the Downstair). The band released eight studio albums to increasingly greater chart success, and toured in support of many of them. Their first major success was the album In Absentia, which enjoyed chart success around Europe with sales of over 120,000. The following studio albums Deadwing and Fear of a Blank Planet met even greater success, charting highly worldwide. The band transitioned somewhat away from metal with their last album, The Incident, with leader Steven Wilson expressing a desire to enter a different genre. They are currently inactive, though with plans to eventually reform.

The new album 'Not The Weapon But The Hand' from Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri was released by Kscope Records February 2012. Hogarth is best known as the frontman of Marillion.'Not The Weapon But The Hand' was completed in late 2011 and features appearances from Danny Thompson on double bass, Arran Ahmun (John Martyn) and Chris Maitland (ex Porcupine Tree) on drums and Dave Gregory (XTC) on guitar, bass and string arrangements.

In 2005 he released his debut solo album Things Buried. Although he has made many albums as part of a group, trio or duo, surprisingly this is his first solo work. The instrumental album also features the distinctive performances of Andy Gangadeen on acoustic and electronic drums, and Percy Jones on fretless bass.

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One of the least-known releases in both the Japan and No-Man family trees -- it fell out of print shortly after release -- Flame is unsurprisingly a lush, romantic album that lets both Barbieri and Bowness show off their considerable skills. Hearing Bowness away from his usual collaborative foil, Steven Wilson, makes for a nice contrast; Barbieri sounds less interested in exploring modern pop styles as he is in creating his own evocative style, a bit of stripped-down Sinatra gone electronic in ways, nightclub cabaret for the end of the century. There's also something of both Scott Walker and quieter Peter Gabriel in their '80s incarnations in the music, low-key avant-rock with a moody undertow and unexpected arrangements, with Steve Jansen's drumming especially worthy of note. "Brightest Blue" is a particular winner in this vein, Barbieri's piano taking the lead there, while Bowness matches this perfectly, his just wonderful voice, softly sighing and gently passionate, giving one of his best romantic lyrics the delivery it deserves. "Time Flown" is another fine highlight, with Bowness taking a commanding tone -- only just, but enough to make an impact -- on the chorus, suiting the darker, more intense music there very well. With the help of both performers' regular circle of friends and fellow musicians -- Mick Karn and Michael Bearpark, besides Jansen and Wilson himself, among others -- the partnership creates some wonderful songs to luxuriate in. Indeed, no track is solely recorded by the two on their own, though a couple come close, including the keyboards/drums/vocals approach on "Trash Talk" (with an especially captivating choir vocal sample woven in) and the instrumental "Torch Dance."

Richard Barbieri and Tim Bowness - Flame ( flac 213mb)

01 A Night In Heaven 5:44
02 Song Of Love And Everything (Part I And II) 6:10
03 Brightest Blue 4:33
04 Flame 5:18
05 Trash Talk 4:35
06 Time Flown 5:56
07 Torch Dance 8:24
08 Feel 4:10

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If you were impressed by Sunday All Over the World (Robert Fripp's collaboration with his wife, Toyah Wilcox), then you will probably be so by this. More or less it's the same minus Fripp. Suzanne Barbieri has an interest in the occult and that mood is conjured up by both the sleeve and some of husband Richard's synth textures. The collection commences well with the Celtic-flavored "Only Forward." "The Wilderness," a beautiful piece with folky infusion that is also featured on the medium label-sampler Beginning to Melt, also fares well, but some of the album falls to lengthy dirge -- "Worlds End" does it no favors but does feature an excellent guitar stretch by Jakko. "Falling Into Years" is another superb atmospheric piece which wouldn't have seemed out of place on Stories Across Borders, his 1991 pairing with Steve Jansen. Barbieri's other Japan sidekick, Mick Karn, is in full command on the funky "Feed the Fire" and Steven Wilson takes a break from Porcupine Tree to guest on said "Wilderness."

Richard n Susan Barbieri - Indigo Falls ( flac 213mb)

01 Only Forward 7:07
02 World's End 8:05
03 Feed The Fire 4:40
04 Falling Into Years 7:00
05 The Wilderness 4:45
06 Towards The Light 5:14
07 Sky Fall 3:20

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Considering that Richard Barbieri has been a professional musician for close to 30 years, it may seem hard to believe that Things Buried is his first solo outing.Things Buried gives Barbieri the opportunity to step into the spotlight. And shine he does on this disc - a rich collection of electronic instrumentals that features Brand X bassist Percy Jones and Massive Attack and fellow H band drummer Andy Gangadeen. Barbieri's analog keyboards shimmer on songs like “Nevada” and the cinematic “Fear and Trembling,” a number that sounds like it’s longing to be used in a science fiction film.

 “Light on Glass,” with Jones’ funky bass and Gangadeen’s pounding rhythm, sounds very reminiscent of Barbieri’s work with JBK. Barbieri drives the track along with some cool synth noises and effects. The closing “Path Not Taken” takes the same route – some funk bass matched by Barbieri’s programmed percussion. The song’s simple yet highly effective piano line will bore into the listener’s brain.

But the true standout song on Things Buried is the majestic “Red Square.” Barbieri plays what sounds like a harpsichord while Jones adds some subtle fretless bass. Eerie sound effects lie in the background. Nearly three minutes in, a lovely piano part takes over. This song so perfectly encapsulates why Barbieri is such a stellar musician – nothing really reaches out and grabs you, but if anything was missing, you’d notice it. Barbieri layers his instrumentation so deftly that it’s easy to under appreciate what he does.

Richard Barbieri - Things Buried ( flac 299mb)

01 Nevada 5:08
02 Fear And Trembling 5:40
03 Light On Glass 6:33
04 Drops Of Mercury 7:39
05 Flaw 4:59
06 Medication Time 6:54
07 Red Square 7:52
08 Path Not Taken 6:29

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. I've recently got into Richard Barbieri's work and I'd appreciate it you re-upped his albums. Thank you in advance.