Today and then there were three from the background, generally unassuming but really present so many times, here joined in purpose for your entertainment. .... N'Joy
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Next week more on Mick Karn, meanwhile Steve Jansen (born Stephen Batt, 1 December 1959, in Beckenham, Kent, England) is an English drummer, percussionist, singer and composer. He was educated at Catford Boys' School, Catford, South East London, where he failed academically, leaving at 16.
He is best known as a founding member of the group Japan, along with his brother David Sylvian (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Mick Karn (bass guitar), Richard Barbieri (keyboards), and Rob Dean (guitar).
After Japan broke up in 1982, Jansen recorded with bandmate Richard Barbieri under the name The Dolphin Brothers, with Jansen handling lead vocals as well as drums and percussion. In 1991, Jansen, Barbieri, and Karn formed Medium Productions as a venue for releasing their own music, as well as releases by other artists.
Jansen has worked extensively as a session musician and in collaboration with a wide range of international artists, such as Yukihiro Takahashi and Italian singer-songwriter Alice. His most recent project is Nine Horses with David Sylvian and Burnt Friedman. Jansen played drums and percussion on tour with Sylvian through the latter half of 2007. On his first solo album, entitled Slope, Jansen "approached composition attempting to avoid chord and song structures and the usual familiar building blocks. Instead I wanted to piece together unrelated sounds, music samples, rhythms and 'events' in an attempt to deviate from my own trappings as a musician.
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.
Medium Productions was a record label created in 1993 primarily to publish the music of Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn, ex-members of the band Japan and Rain Tree Crow. Medium was a means to release their own music with other collaborating artists, without 'big record label' compromise. Fifteen CDs of innovative and largely instrumental music were produced over a ten-year period. Medium Productions folded in 2004 as the founders decided it was time for a change of direction and became more involved in other projects (such as Porcupine Tree, Nine Horses). The entire MP catalog has been re-released on the Voiceprint Music label beginning in 2001.
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Having performed with the band No-Man, and in Barbieri's case nouveau prog rockers Porcupine Tree, JBK began exploring longer possibilities in their music, as demonstrated on their label debut, Beginning to Melt, a compilation of tracks by or featuring JBK that had no home elsewhere. Worth the price alone for the Karn/Torn composition "Shipwrecks," a perfect summation of how a piece called "Shipwrecks" should sound, other notable tracks include "The Wilderness" (Mr. & Mrs. B) and Robby Acceto's "Human Age."
Comprised of one remix (the title cut from Beginning to Melt) and three original compositions, the instrumental Seed is essential '90s ambient prog rock. The "Beginning to Melt" remix is the crowning achievement on the disc. This lengthy, bass-generated groove is atmospheric and textured, but equally brooding. A dark undercurrent flows through Karn's basslines while Barbieri's synth waves flow and float, and Jansen's drums keep the piece grounded in a rock-based environment. "In the Black of Desire" continues in the same vein, only lighter, with the addition of ethereal voices and Eastern influences reflected in Barbieri's shimmering synth work. Karn's "Insect Tribe" returns to the dark, brooding atmospherics of the opening cut.
The final track, "Prey," sets itself apart with its upbeat, flowing rhythm, due in large part to Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson, whose stinging electric guitar seems to set the tone and guide the music. The piece creates a feeling of urgency and paranoia in a strange, foreign land -- an exotic, jungle-like environment.
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Beginning To Melt + Seed ( flac 351mb)
01 Beginning To Melt 11:50
02 The Wilderness 4:45
03 March Of The Innocents 4:09
04 Human Age 5:41
05 Shipwrecks 6:21
06 Ego Dance 7:39
07 The Orange Asylum 6:11
08 Beginning To Melt (Remix) 11:12
09 In The Black Of Desire 4:25
10 The Insect Tribe 7:01
11 Prey 4:11
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Beginning To Melt + Seed ( ogg 156mb)
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JBK are capable of some exquisite work, but minus Sylvian they can be self indulgent, and Ism has far too many reference points. The excellent "Shallow Pool" throws in everything from sampled radio to violins. Barbieri's breezy synth work leads into a Jansen thrash for the chorus. Ism then struggles to find itself, descending into a confused mishmash of overlong vocal/instrumental tracks like "Carry the Ashes," which is semi-engaging but stretched too thin over eight minutes. Guest vocalists also clutter the album; Zoe Nibblet helps out on three pieces, including the pleasant yet haunting "Red Track Dance." Best of the lot is endgame "Found in a Shell of Murmers," evoking memories of how good they really are and what the rest of the record is missing.
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Ism ( flac 253mb)
01 The Shallow Pool 6:32
02 To The Core 4:30
03 Sacrifice 2:43
04 Cold Light 6:39
05 Carry The Ashes 8:30
06 Red Track Dance 7:30
07 Beast Haunted 4:45
08 Alone In His Shoes 5:46
09 Found In A Shell Of Murmurs 4:48
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Ism ( ogg 104mb)
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This CD features live versions of some of these musicians' '90s output -- four of them Karn's, three from Jansen and Barbieri's Stories Across Borders, one from Rain Tree Crow, and two new. Barbieri's "Walkabout" is an Aboriginal trance. For "Types of Ambiguity," Jansen employs a simple piano motif, fusing it with crowd and synth sounds. Ironically, the meatier tracks -- "Big Wheels in Shanty Town," "Saday Maday," and "Bestial Cluster" -- lose some of their bite live, and it's the quieter ones, which at first glance seem an odd choice, that steal the show. There's a lovely retake on "When Things Dream" and "Long Tales, Tall Shadows" (aka "Flame," minus the Tim Bowness vocal).
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Playing In A Room With People ( flac 264mb)
01 Walkabout 4:24
02 Big Wheels In Shanty Town 6:08
03 Saday Maday 6:37
04 Lodge Of Skins 4:33
05 When Things Dream 3:19
06 Bestial Cluster 3:43
07 The Night Gives Birth 4:33
08 Long Tales, Tall Shadows 5:31
09 Plaster The Magic Tongue 5:48
10 Types Of Ambiguity 2:36
Jansen Barbieri Karn - Playing In A Room With People (ogg 111mb)
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