It’s a common enough story: two music fans meet in a record store, bond over Joy Division, and discuss how great it would be to make a living promoting the records they love. Where this particular tale differs is that the two men in question – Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates – went onto establish a Brussels-born, London-based label named [PIAS] Recordings, that’s supported some of the best artists of the past 30 years. Dive into their illustrious catalogue below.
From 1995’s Do You Like My Tight Sweater? right up to 2007’s Overpowered, Róisín Murphy has always displayed a unique talent for pairing leftfield ideas with huge pop hooks. Happily, the recent eight-year hiatus seems to have done little to sate the singer-songwriter’s interest in the avant-garde. Arguably Murphy’s most adventurous outing yet, this third LP finds the former Moloko frontwoman swapping the sleek disco of Overpowered for a sparkling mix of twitching electro and downtempo funk. An irresistible, idiosyncratic listen.
Coventry’s Obaro Ejimiwe first came to prominence in 2011, with the fractured beats and glitchy electronics of his Mercury-nominated debut, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. In 2013, Ejimiwe developed that further with second album Some Say I So I Say Light, before embracing live-room recording to quite magnificent effect on this year’s Shedding Skin. Offering an eerie mix of twitching percussion, plaintive piano chords, brooding bass and chiming guitars, these organic sounds increased the potency of Ejimiwe’s elliptical poetry, imbuing songs with a propulsive energy that offset his brilliantly-drowsy diction.
It takes a huge amount of skill and an innate lightness of touch to plumb the depths of melancholy without seeming self-indulgent, but Agnes Obel has made it appear easy on both of her long-players to date. That’s partially due to the classically-trained, Copenhagen-born composer’s deliberately spacious arrangements – which are predominantly based around piano and often delicately adorned with strings – but also to the comforting softness of her emotive tones. Philharmonics and Aventine cast us listeners as confidants, and when we lean in we’re rewarded with the most beautiful secrets.
Metal, post-hardcore, trance and dubstep might not seem the most obvious of musical bedfellows, but Enter Shikari have made an art of the unlikely alliance, fusing powerhouse riffs and ferocious bass drops with a range of electronic effects. In their 12 years together, the St. Albans-formed four-piece have achieved considerable critical and commercial success, and now boast multiple Kerrang Awards and three top five albums, including latest LP The Mindsweeper which debuted at number four back in January. Particularly impressive when you consider its politicised missives tackle everything from war to the break-up of the NHS.