K-Scope [Release date: 27 November 2015]
The cries of “oh no, he’s doing a Steven Wilson on us” may have been the first reaction of progressive rock luminaries The Pineapple Thief’s legion of fans when hearing that said band’s frontman and creative hub Bruce Soord was releasing a solo album.
After all, Steven Wilson has pretty much shunted Porcupine Tree into a siding to plough his own musical furrow hasn’t he?
Well the good news is that Soord has no plans to give up the day job – the even better news is that he has taken an opportunity that fate presented to him to produce a remarkable piece of work.
When Jonas Renske (Katatonia) pulled out of a new Wisdom Of Crowds album due to commitments with his own band, Soord agreed to fill the space for K-Scope with a record of his own.
And we should all be grateful for what fate has delivered, for ‘Bruce Soord’ is nothing short of a triumph.
So many solo albums by artists who have been in the same band for ever sound remarkably similar to those bands and you think ‘what’s the point?’.
Not so here.
Soord has produced a retrospective, not of Pineapple Thief, but of his own life, the town he grew up in and how the two have changed over the passage of time.
This has been achieved by creating a series of musical photographs – moments in time that are both captivating and insightful in equal measure.
The whole album is a vista of cinematic melancholia where dreamy piano and keyboard swashes are threaded together with pastoral acoustic guitar and occasionally angular electric passages to produce a moody, atmospheric, yet curiously life-affirming, set of songs.
Added to this heady mix are Soord’s well-crafted vocals and some inspired synth work that often tricks the ear into the illusion of hearing a brass section – together with some really deep bass and computer clicks and tricks that give the whole work a distinctive, contemporary feel.
The ten tracks start as they mean to go on with the wistful piano intro of ‘Black Smoke’ – a paean to his home town and a found love.
Tracks such as ‘Buried Here’, the story of someone who lived and died in the town but never regretted a minute of it and the Oasis-like ‘A Thousand Daggers’ ramp up the nostalgia quotient while the quite brilliant ‘Willow Tree’ (about Soord’s marital troubles) and the most progressive track here, ‘Born In Delusion’ both push themselves forward as highlights.
For me, the high point is penultimate track ‘Familiar Patterns’ which dreamily floats along with that aforementioned deep bass, echoing clicks and a double flanged Gilmouresque solo from guest fretsman Darron Charles.
The whole shebang has a film-noir presence about it and Soord has kept his powder dry with the notable absence of his customary guitar pyrotechnics – but this is all to the good in creating an understated gem of an album which plays out the minutae of small-town life whilst keeping its eye very much on the bigger picture.
Pure class. *****
Review by Alan Jones
In his show broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 10 May David Randall played a further selection of artists and albums included in the new Features series, “2020 Vision”.
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Featured Albums w/c 25 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 FM Synchronized (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 THE ROCKET DOLLS The Art Of Disconnect (indie)
14:00-16:00 BEN KUNDER Searching For The Stranger (indie)
Power Plays w/c 11 May (Mon-Fri)
THE MERCY KILLS Alone (Golden Robot Records)
DEAD REYNOLDS By Your Side (indie)
THE JAILBIRDS Watery Grave (Golden Robot Records)
ALI MASS & MICKY MOODY These Times (Last Man Music)
MASSIVE WAGONS Bangin In Your Stereo (Earache)
UDO We Are One (AFM Records)
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