I always love it when two musicians who have both put in the time developing their individual careers and finding success with their respective projects decide to come together to create a collaborative album. We saw this a few days ago with Storm Corrosion, the joint endeavor of Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt. Today, I’ve got another such project, just released about a month ago on Kscope, a sub-label of Snapper Music which specializes in “post-progressive” music. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with Wisdom of Crowds, an album released by Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse.
Bruce Soord is most popularly known for his role as the founder and creative mastermind behind The Pineapple Thief. Started in 1999, The Pineapple Thief has released nine studio albums over a thirteen-year career, including the most recent record, All the Wars. The group has become well-known in indie and progressive rock circles as a result of their unique stylistic crossovers between the two styles.
Jonas Renkse is also a self-made man. He is most notably the founder and frontman of the Swedish metal band Katatonia. In addition, he was the main force behind the bands Bloodbath and October Tide, the former originally (and somewhat coincidentally) featuring Mikael Åkerfeldt on vocals for the first six years of the group’s existence. Katatonia has had widespread influence in the music community since its inception back in 1991. Their earlier albums are frequently considered to be a large influence on the development of death-doom metal genre (with Åkerfeldt yet again appearing on Brave Murder Day with harsh vocals), while their most recent albums have pioneered a darkly atmospheric, heavily textural progressive sound.
Bruce Soord began writing songs for the Wisdom of Crowds sessions with Renkse’s voice specifically in mind, and the result is an optimal combination of both of their styles. There is a clear progressive singer-songwriter-turns-producer vibe that serves as the foundation for the album. The music is definitely catchy – the vocal melodies soon become engrained into your mind, amplified by the smooth instrumental orchestration backing them up.
Also essential to the record’s sound is its experimental edge. Combining elements of everything from post-rock to electronica, from the low grumbles of industrial metal to the chill, downtempo tendencies of trip hop. Throughout all of this, there’s an incredibly organic feel to the music, imbued with a sense of warmth and humanity. Renkse is the voice of familiarity throughout the entirety of the record as Soord outdoes himself by travelling through this vast array of musical influences and color palettes. The result is truly ethereal – a celestial journey that takes the listener through many levels of emotion and consciousness while still remaining true to its origins.
If you’re a big fan of The Dear Hunter, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy Wisdom of Crowds. This album is equally rewarding as an intensive listen as it is playing in the background. It’s pleasant surface listening, but it boasts a mysterious, somewhat ominous side to it as well that draws the listener into its own majestic world. Bruce Soord and Jonas Renkse have outdone themselves with this collaboration, especially since the former was busy with the latest Pineapple Thief album and the latter was touring around the world in support of the most recent Katatonia record, Dead End Kings. It remains uncertain as to whether or not the two of them will collaborate again in the future, but for now I am content with this masterpiece of sound.