Former Japan/Rain Tree Crow and current Porcupine Tree keyboardist Richard Barbieri steps out with his second proper solo album Stranger Inside on K Scope Records. Although this is primarily Barbieri’s show, he is joined by Japan cohort, percussionist Steve Jansen with additional programming and arrangements as well as mixing duties. Porcupine Tree front man Steven Wilson mastered the recording, lending his unique sonic sensibilities to the project. Barbieri also employs vocal samples courtesy of his wife Suzanne and no-man leader Tim Bowness.
Those familiar with Barbieri’s work will instantly recognize the textures of his synthesizer mastery. There is a darkness prevalent throughout that lures the listener rather than repels. At first listen, you’ll believe you’re spinning a lost collection of ambient incidental theme music from some recent yet overlooked sci-fi film. Barbieri’s control of rhythm and tone, however, produce a record that’s far too engaging for simple background music. The musician is the secret weapon deployed by fellow artists ranging from Robert Fripp to David Sylvian to the aforementioned Porcupine Tree. Stranger Inside lets the cat out of the bag and whets our appetite for future collaborations.
– Mark Polzin