Buyer’s Guide

Ks­cope Records

Classic Rock - - Contents -

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.

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