There seems to be a red line through the releases of the last years. Since every self-respected progressive rock artist collaborated or invited Steven Wilson for whatever thing he is good in. Re-mixing, playing his instruments, singing or even inspiring the people that are around him. Is this a good thing? YES!
This CD is from a long respected member of the “Wilson community”. But he was active long before SW made his mark as a Prog God.
Richard Barbieri earned his well-deserved fame back in the seventies when he was part of the ground breaking band Japan. And before he made fame in Porcupine Tree he joined SW and Tim Bowness in No-Man. Also not less important to mention is the works he did with his former Japan colleague Steve Jansen. All in all with many other names a very impressive CV for this excellent musician.
This album is his third solo album without mentioning another artist (as he did with Steve Hogarth and a few others, see above). To be honest, I did not really listen to all of them. Knowing that he proved to be an excellent keyboard player (seen him live a few times with Porcupine Tree) my expectations are high.
As the 7 track jazzy soundscape unfolds in the first track, you hear something quite different from what you might expect from the bands he has played in. Mr. Barbieri lets you float through experimental soundscaping accompanied with some trumpets and saxophones. Also he said he (quote) “used, abused and often morphed into instruments and textures” different voices, and if you listen carefully you'll recognize the voices of Hogarth, Bowness a few others and even his wife Suzanne (with whom he also made Indigo Falls).
He manages to keep me interested. I'm not really a huge enthusiast of wind instruments, but they are placed very subtly in the flow of the soundscapes. Furthermore the jazzy parts are not too freaky. It's all within the boundaries, without getting annoying. This balance proves to me the high standard of these compositions.
Although I personally think Planets + Persona is not an epic album. Soundscapes and such (In the likes of Bass Communion among others) are for a specific group of listeners. It's not “open” for everyone. And if you belong to that specific group of listeners you'll find an outstanding album. Mr. Barbieri is a man who knows what he's doing, and he is one of the elite in his genre.
**** Erik van Os (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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