Richard Barbieri and Steve Hogarth: A match made in Heaven

On February 28, 2012, two of the driving forces in today's Neo-Prog movement, released the final product of what may prove to be one of the most divine collaborations in recent memory.  Richard Barbieri (currently the keyboardist of PORCUPINE TREE, and former member of late 70's/early 80's Art Pop/New Romantic pioneers, JAPAN) joined forces with Steve Hogarth, the second (and longest running) vocalist from Neo-Prog veterans, MARILLION.  

The more I ponder this union, the less it seems to surprise me.  Richard Barbieri had been a part of the cutting edge music scene since the late 70's, creating some of the most diverse sounds of any artist during the last 35 years.  From his work with JAPAN, through various side projects and solo efforts (DOLPHIN BROTHERS, with fellow Japan member, Steve Jansen), in addition to his 15+ year association and membership with Prog sensations, PORCUPINE TREE,  Richard Barbieri has always separated himself from the musical mainstream.

"Quiet Life", by JAPAN (circa 1981)

"Prodigal", by PORCUPINE TREE (circa 2008)

 Steve Hogarth, also a 30 year veteran of alternative music, first hit the scene in the early 80's as the keyboardist of New Wave/Art-Pop one offs, THE EUROPEANS.  The following is the video for their one and only hit, "The Animal Song".

"Everybody Hurts" (R.E.M. cover), by MARILLION (circa 2007)

At the end of the 80's, original MARILLION vocalist, Fish, decided that he wanted to explore a solo career.  Filling his shoes was the relatively unknown Hogarth.  While many Marillion fans feared that the band would suffer after the departure of Fish, Steve Hogarth not only helped them to persevere, but exceed the expectations of many fans.  To this day, Marillion continues to dominate in the world of Neo Prog Rock.

To me, the most shocking thing about this collaboration is how mellow it is.  Porcupine Tree has evolved into a near Metal status, while maintaining Prog sensibility, Marillion has maintained their progressive, experimental Rock sound, and together, these artists have created a thing of beauty.  For the most part, this album includes some very sedate, beautiful music.  The following are video clips where Richard Barbieri and Steve Hogarth speak of the inspirations behind this fantastic collaboration.

Part One

Part Two


Since originally publishing this post last year, I have purchased the "deluxe" edition on iTunes, containing all tracks on the normal album, plus a bonus song.  With the exception of two more "upbeat" songs, this album is establishing itself as one of my favorite albums of 2012.  Now, to compile that top 20 list and share it with you.

Stay tuned....