Which of the post-progressive label’s releases – including albums by Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, Anathema and North Atlantic Oscillation – should you own?
The roots of this leading-light label in contemporary progressive music actually go back to the late 90s. Part of Snapper Music, and sisterlabel to the more metal-geared Peaceville, Kscope was initially the sole preserve of Steven Wilson and his much-loved brainchild Porcupine Tree. Back then, in 1999, the idea was to have an arm of the Snapper group that focused on the kind of 21st-century prog and alt.rock advocated by Wilson. It quickly became apparent that there were others like him. Fellow innovative British rock bands The Pineapple Thief and Anathema quickly joined the label, followed by others from an increasingly broad range of countries and schools of progressive thought.
To that end, Kscope’s catalogue now covers rock, electronica, alternative jazz, metal and folk, along with solo albums and reissues from A-listers including
Ian Anderson and Steve Hogarth (we’ve deliberately left those out of this roundup, as they really merit guides of their own). It has essentially created a whole genre; so many more artists have emerged under the ‘post-progressive’ banner since its inception. And with our sister title Prog playing a big part in its ongoing development, it’s become a revered haven for quality progressive music – proof, for those who need it, that prog is much more than something weird that happened in Canterbury in the late 60s and early 70s.
It’s not all gold, though. Kscope can feel like a very niched, slightly chin-strokey environment, especially at the more electronic end of their roster, and some records simply err on the drifty, opaque side, irrespective of your personal taste. But the label is also home to a rich lineage of boundary-pushing rock; the sort of albums that subvert clichés in the most inviting way possible. If you’re bored by a lot of contemporary rock, and long for something new that’s both interesting and readily likeable, this is a good place to turn to.
A couple of notes: yes, Steven Wilson is all over this guide, essentially because he’s been very busy and played with a number of prime-cut artists signed to the label. Besides, he’s basically the reason the label exists, so it seems fair enough. Beyond that we’ve capped it at one album per artist, and made our choices with the rock listener in mind.
Kscope’s roots: earlyPorcupine Tree.