In the mid-80s a wind of change swept through the electronic music industry worldwide as new genres like house, deep house, acid house, EBM, industrial dance, italo disco and techno were rapidly evolving in The United States and Western Europe, capturing the imagination and attention of a lot of people.
Around that time in Belgium the New Beat subculture fused techno, EBM and the acidic rhythms at a slower speed, bringing something new and different to the table and setting the grounds for the rave movement in the region which developed even more in the early ‘90s.
In 1984 Renaat Vandepapeliere and his wife Sabine Maes took the initials of their first names and founded R&S Records in the city of Ghent, a label that would later become a true beacon for electronic music worldwide.
Renaat had a vision and with Sabine’s support and energy he created a formula that would bring licenses of American-made music into Europe and encourage European artists to freely express themselves and go with the flow in terms of production. Soon, under the Ferrari-like logo the early aspects of techno were beginning to take shape and as the first years passed, the label had already put itself on the map through hard work, a lot of passion and dedication.
While the first records that were coming out were focused on Belgian New Beat, the imprint opened up to all derivative genres of electronic dance music that were popular at that time under the “In Order To Dance” compilations, an attitude that transformed into a motto which is still in effect even today.
Among the artists that had iconic releases with R&S or its numerous sublabels we can find CJ Bolland, Joey Beltram, Cisco Ferreira, Dave Clarke, the Public Relation trio, the Dutch group Human Resource, Detroit’s pioneers Juan Atkins as Model 500 and Derrick May, Carl Craig, Mike Dred, Jam & Spoon, Jaydee, Sven Van Hees, the German duo Sun Electric, Capricorn, Aphex Twin, Biosphere, Ken Ishii, Cabaret Voltaire, Boom Boom Satellites, Space Dimension Controller, Nicolas Jaar, Synkro, Nadine Shah, Robert Leiner, Tommy Gee, Locust, James Zabiela, Laurent Garnier and Eskmo to name only a small fraction of those that made the history of electronic music happen.
Continuing its tradition, the label still functions today although it experienced a consistent hiatus in the past, bringing forward top-notch modern rhythms to a world that still explores house and techno music with new approaches and styles.
Some of the most recent releases include Architectural’s “Planet Is But A Dream” EP brought forward in April and RV Trax Vol. 5 compilation that will be available from the 22nd of May across various platforms. Let’s have a closer look at these ones!
Architectural – “Planet Is But A Dream”
The Spanish producer Juan Rico aka Architectural drops two piercing techno tracks on his debut 12’’ on R&S in the form of “Planet Is But A Dream” EP. With a consistent discographic history under his belt that spans for almost ten years, the artist always manages to display endless creativity in his production process, bringing forward immersive sonic journeys flavored with the minimal touches of Chicago’s sound, Detroit’s vibrant harmonies, pure warehouse techno or straight-up introspective headphone compositions.
For this material he presents two energetic cuts, “This Is Not Purple” on the A Side, a steaming ever-evolving thumping rhythm designed with an incisive percussion core that undergoes several modulations and warm background synth patterns that perfectly complement the whole and “Rhythms & Souls” on the B Side, a stripped-down cut focused on its solid snares and drums, infused with heavily distorted vocals and stretched pads that function with a precise balance, like a futuristic machine.
Truly invigorating and distinct, the EP presents itself to be perfect for peak time moments at intense techno events and not only. The potential of playing with the track in selections that can fall in another kind of related genres, even minimal or industrial for example adds another whole kind of spice to it all, making it forward-thinking and an instant must-have for any record collection.
RV Trax, Vol. 5 Compilation
Renaat Vandepapeliere returns with the fifth episode of his personal RV Trax series, a compilation that packs nine tracks signed by artists from countries like Belgium, The United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Argentina, Germany, France and Italy.
The overall sound transmitted by the volume reveals an alluring fusion of various styles that can trigger diferent feelings, yet remaining organic and very potent as a stand-alone selection by itself, just like a DJ set that comes from someone who spent three decades digging and working with techno and IDM music.
From the powerful breakbeat-infused “Loose Up Yourself” by Dacanal and the pounding drumming of “Give It To Me” by KUSP to the trippy atmospheric and emotional layering of “Pure Black Skies” by Tension and the hypnotic rhythm and vocal work of the “Oracle” by Optmst, the possibilities offered by the percussion arrangements are explored with great care and switch from one bpm to another with an astonishing balance. Flavours of ambient and IDM are dropped here and there, delivering a refreshing effect and a liquid combination.
The selection also features a driving entrancing piece in the form of “Tridimensionale” by Primal Code, where the subtle progressive vibe and technoid sequencing provide a playful psychedelic journey. In order to explore more aspects of electronic music, tracks like “Escaping Samsara” by Hermetics reveal an eclectic blend of steady-paced techno and tribal insertions while “Noos” by VENDi delivers more uplifting vibrations rotating around excellent structural minimalism that constantly provides tension.
“My:Emi” by Hala Bahma goes full funky, exploring the alchemy of jazzy harmonics, bubbling layers and deep background textures, marking yet another amazing addition to the tracklist. “Gentle” by 6SISS completes the VA with some spiralling acidic riffs elegantly combined with old-school beat sequences and raving sensations.
The whole package here is intriguing and forward-thinking, standing as a solid argument for the traditional quality offered by the record label through its vision on modern electronic music.
It also provides an insight into what music has evolved into and what it can become from here on, as long as infinite creativity remains an essential part of the production process and artists dare to explore it.
A must-have for enthusiasts and selectors alike and another great addition to this compilation series. Both releases available now.