Steve Hogarth & Richard Barbieri: Not The Weapon But The Hand

Cult heroes collaborate.

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Intimacy is the key theme here. Marillion vocalist Hogarth and Porcupine Tree (and ex-Japan) keyboardist Barbieri dovetail to deliver whispering, flickering ripples of sound and imagery.

The music is subtle, muted, more about mood than melody, while Hogarth’s words, often spoken, are colourfully candid and confessional. He sometimes strains too hard to be the enigmatic poet bemoaning lost love, clutching his temples in Munch-like angst, earnestly announcing ‘The world’s a safer place/without your beautiful face’ like Churchill reading a list of casualties – but you can’t accuse him of not taking it seriously.

As a Japan fan of yore, Hogarth is clearly delighted to be dressing up Barbieri’s pulses and arcs. One imagines he revered Ghosts: A Cat With Seven Souls and Naked are so brittle and hushed that you listen on tiptoe.

Crack briefly breaks into neo-industrial rhythms, but this is chiefly soft-spoken, sepia and sensitive.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.