One of my favorite labels in the current prog scene is Kscope Music. Its first release was The Pineapple Thief’s Tightly Unwound in 2008, and it has rapidly become a force to be reckoned with. Steven Wilson has released all of his solo work on Kscope, as well as Porcupine Tree’s The Incident, and several PT reissues.
Everything Kscope does is top-notch, both musically and visually. They favor quality over quantity, and as a result, prog fans eagerly anticipate their releases. Their site is one of the most informative on the web, incorporating minisites for new and upcoming releases, music videos, artist’s tour dates, Soundcloud samples, Twitter feeds, desktop and mobile wallpapers, and a monthly podcast.
They have put together an impressive stable of artists, promoting what they call “post-progressive” music. Here’s a quick rundown of my favorites (in alphabetical order):
Anathema began as a very dark and heavy metal band, but now they are full of light and beauty. Their songs grapple with issues of life, mortality, and spirituality. Here’s a sample from their latest album, Weather Systems:
Engineers are what would happen if Pink Floyd and Crosby, Stills, & Nash decided to team up with My Bloody Valentine. Lush vocal harmonies on a bed of multilayered guitars. Gorgeous stuff, in my opinion. Here’s a link to an audio stream of their album In Praise Of More.
Gazpacho are from Norway, and, like Anathema, they aren’t afraid to tackle serious topics in their music. Here’s the video to “What Did I Do”, a song about P.G. Wodehouse’s being accused of treason after he made some naïve German radio broadcasts during WWII:
Lunatic Soul is essentially a solo project of Mariusz Duda, bassist for the excellent Polish prog-metal band Riverside. Their two albums tell the story of a soul in limbo who is given a choice of returning as a reincarnated person with no memory of his past life and loves, or keeping his memories and remaining a shade (at least that’s what I think it’s about!). There is a third Lunatic Soul album consisting of instrumental tracks based on the first two albums’ songs. Duda’s music is mostly acoustic, very melodic, and has a world music feel. Here’s a sampler:
As I mentioned earlier, both Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson’s solo music are now on Kscope. I love his work, and if you’re reading this blog, I probably can’t add anything to what you already about him!
Finally, we have The Pineapple Thief. Bruce Soord has been making wonderful music for more than ten years. As I wrote in a review of their album Variations on A Dream, “Depending on your listening temperament, his songs can either be maddeningly long and repetitious or seductively beautiful. I fall into the latter camp, and it might be because I enjoy the music of Philip Glass, Arvo Part, and Steve Reich – minimalist composers who write tonal pieces that rely upon a lot of repetition.”
Here’s “Last Man Standing” from their recently released album All The Wars:
Kscope is a label that is creating its own distinctive style, like ECM and Blue Note did with jazz, and 4AD did with, well, whatever you want to call 4AD’s music in the ’80s. By taking full advantage of social media, Kscope is spreading the word about post-progressive music worldwide.