By Will Romano
Kscope, which existed in name prior to 2008 (ie. Porcupine Tree’s 2001 record Recordings, 2000’s Lightbulb Sun and 1999’s Stupid Dream and the various singles they’d spawned), is now the home for new, accessible, yet experimental, prog-rock statements such as No Sound’s Lightdark, Anathema’s Hindsight, Lunatic Soul (from Riverside frontman Mariusz Duda), The Pineapple Thief’s Tightly Unwound, Stranger Inside (by Barbieri), and No-Man’s Schoolyard Ghosts.
Packaged in luxurious super-jewel box, digibook or digipak designs, these releases are as attractive aurally as they are visually and are aimed at underscoring the timelessness (not disposability) of the music they promote.
“Since working with Porcupine Tree, a few bands of the genre have come along,” says Johnny Wilks, sales and marketing director Snapper Music/Peaceville/Kscope. “What we’ve decided to do is make Kscope a home for the bands like Porcupine Tree and that new ‘post-progressive’ genre.”
“Kscope, actually, is a name I came up with years ago when we did an album called Stupid Dream with Snapper,” says Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson. “I said to Snapper, ‘Look, we want our own imprint. We don’t want to be on Snapper,’ because, at the time, Snapper were just coming out of an era when they were known as a back-catalog reissues label. That is no longer the case. We were one of the first new bands they had signed. In some respects, the label is a return to ambitious album-oriented music. I guess Radiohead has been the posterchild for that whole scene. I think Snapper and myself were on the same page, so and I said, ‘Why don’t you revive the Kscope thing and have this label for releasing only new music. No back catalog. Just go after some of these bands and model yourselves on those old ’70s labels, like Harvest and Vertigo.’ With those labels, they would sign a band but wouldn’t blow half a million dollars to make a video or a record. Instead, they would allow artists to develop both musically and with a fan base over a period of albums.”
Wilson has been vital to the early success of Kscope as a conduit for new talent. “It was really Steven Wilson who got [us] the deal with Kscope,” says Bruce Soord, The Pineapple Thief’s chief architect. “A fan sent [Wilson] a copy of the Pineapple Thief’s Little Man record, and he really liked it and got in contact with me. He said, ‘Look, you have to get off Cyclops [former label] and get on a bigger label to do your music justice. Get it out there.’ [Wilson] gave me advice, and I am eternally grateful to Steve for actually taking the time to listen to my record.”
“Bruce is in a kind of interesting point in his career,” says Wilson. “He obviously has made four or five albums as The Pineapple Thief, and the audience is building, but it is building organically in a slow way. You know what? At least it is building, and that is the important thing. That is a positive, and that is something that is still happening with Porcupine Tree.”