R & S represents the initials of Renaat & Sabine, the couple that created this quintessential label of the history of the electronic music. Based in Ghent, Belgium, it held the privilege to be located on one of the oldest and most traditional cities of Europe.
It's hard to imagine the techno world of the late '80s and '90s without Belgium's R&S Records. The Ghent-based label not only first introduced Aphex Twin to the world, but it was also the home of some of the era's biggest names and releases, from Derrick May to System 7 to Joey Beltram, whose "Energy Flash" might be the label's most famous single. The story of Renaat Vendepapeliere's and Sabine Maes' imprint is well-known by now: After more than 30 years of mostly excellent releases, the label succumbed to trends (such as D&B), oversaturated the market, and its founders became disgusted by commercial elements in the music industry.
In 2006, the label was reborn, and has been churning out new music and reissues ever since. Favorites like May's Innovator best-of compilation and Model 500's Classics have been re-released in new packages, but they come along with exciting new work from Radio Slave, Shlomi Aber, Pariah, and James Blake. While the Radio Slave and Model 500 releases still assure that the label is entrenched in techno, it is perhaps the post-dubstep aesthetic of Blake which is most representative of the label's new curatorial aim, as Blake's skittering sonic experimentations and Pariah's exemplary take on UK funky show that R&S isn't resting on its laurels, something that can't always be said of other imprints with such astounding history behind them. And with upcoming cuts from five-piece Vondelpark and wonky dubstep master Blawan, R&S has once again cemented its place in the electronic dance music pantheon. Here are a few of the label's finest to date.
In Oktober 2013, R&S Records, the Belgian imprint behind classic techno records from the likes of Capricorn, Second Phase and Mundo Muzique, turns 30 next year. Thirty! To celebrate encroaching middle age, they’ve announced a bumper compilation looking back at the label’s history.
Organised alphabetically rather than chronologically, 30 Years of R&S Records touches on all corners of the label’s output, from Joey Beltram’s techno banger ‘Energy Flash’ to contemporary heavyweights like Blawan’s ‘Shader’, plus ambient excursions by Aphex Twin and Biosphere and a significant selection of recent tracks by the likes of Space Dimension Controller and Vondelpark, both signed to the label after its early noughties hiatus.