Planets + Persona: Richard Barbieri (KScope).

I have always been a big fan of Japan and also enjoy the music of Procupine Tree so was relishing the prospect of listening to the new album by keyboardist for both bands, Richard Barbieri.

The first time I played it I was perplexed. Nothing really seemed to sink in. I guess it was the lack of traditional rock structures but I was struggling to really put my finger on what was going on.

However, I persisted and each time I listened to Planets + Persona I liked it more.

It's hard to define. There are hints of Japan, around the time of Ghosts and the Tin Drum album; there are touches of Kraftwerk, Mike Oldfield, even Pink Floyd.

But these are only approximations. This is an instrumental album with its own feel and atmosphere.

Recurring elements include scratching, smooth jazzy moments, synthesised sounds and twisted voices (though not in a language we can recognise). The press release with the album accurately sums it up as 'a skilful commingling of texture and tone, mood and musicality'.

And there are moments of grandeur and beauty. Being a fan of traditonal rock I particularly liked the times when the drums developed and held some of the songsin a more regid structure. With a basic rhythm backing up the track, the voices and synthesised sounds had a better platform to play over.

Stand out tracks for me are New Found Land and Night of the Hunter but, after my iniitial difficulty, I actually like them all.

If you fancy taking a journey to an unusual musical place, which rewards repeated plays, then Planets + Persona is for you.

Andrew Thomas