In Ghent, Belgium, the distinctive Ferrari-like prancing horse logo of R&S heralded a stream of cutting edge techno gold unleashed as the label corralled more seismic electronic battle-weapons than any in European dance music history. R&S licensed the hottest tunes from all over the world while developing its own formidable stable of producers. It's catalogue, now thankfully being reactivated, is nothing short of stunning. R&S took its name from the initials of its founders Renaat Vandepapeliere and his wife Sabine Maes. Renaat's first single release ['Bubble Up' by Big Tony] was the only release on his Milos Music label in 1983 before the name was changed to R&S the following year, seeing Big Tony return with a cover of Barry White's Can't Get Enough [Of Your Love Babe] before getting down to business releasing electronic pop and new beat before its first acid house outing: 1987's 'Drop The Deal' by Code 61, which became an early Balearic hit.
As the acid house revolution took hold in the late 80s, the label began licensing prime house and techno from the US, making hard-to-find imports like Sheila's 'Acid Kiss' and names like Derrick May, Fingers Inc and Juan Atkins available in Europe. R&S really got into its stride around 1991, finding itself at the forefront of the hardcore explosion which had reared after the end of the prolonged summer of love, firing jackhammer exhortations like Hardcore's 'Get A Little Stupid' at the warehouse massive while building its own stable of producers like C.J. Bolland, who helped shape dance music's immediate future with outings like the 'Ravesignal' series. The label started the much-anticipated In Order To Dance compilations to further consolidate its releases.
R&S maintained a healthy relationship with Detroit's electronic innovators from the late 80s first wave, signing tracks and albums from names including Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins as Model 500, Kenny Larkin, Carl Craig, John Beltran and Silent Phase. In 1992 they scored a huge club hit after licensing Phuture's terrifying 'Rise From Your Grave' from New York's Strictly Rhythm. Renaat had this gift for astute licensing, picking up tunes which were blowing up in clubs all over the world, including a then-unknown Moby trading as Voodoo Child and, most notably, Joey Beltram from Brooklyn, New York, whose Volume One contained the primeval drug-throb of 'Energy Flash', one of acid house's defining anthems which had first appeared on Derrick May's fabled Transmat imprint. Beltram became the label's forward-thinking American heavy hitter, continuing with fearsome missives like Volume Two and 'The Omen' as Program 2 before uncorking the dreaded 'hoover' noise as Second Phase in 'Mentasm'. This terrifying sound created on a Juno synth was taken further on Human Resource's 'Dominator', becoming a staple noise in the hardcore onslaught gripping Europe in the early 90s.
When outfits like the Orb sent the chillout rooms into the stratosphere R&S started an ambient offshoot called Apollo for mellower excursions from names like David Morley and even Juan Atkins. Global Cuts was created to accommodate more uplifting, house-flavoured music like Eages Prey's 'Piano Power', unleashing one of the all-time dancefloor killers with the snare-barrage of Capricorn's '20Hz'. In 1993, the label started up a UK outlet with Daniel Miller's Mute Records: one of the tunes which made its mark in the UK through the deal was the irresistible organ-fest of Robin 'Jaydee' Albers' 'Plastic Dreams', a true classic. Other long-term signings included South London's Dave Angel [the 'Voyage series', 'Planet Function', 'Stairway To Heaven'], Japan's Ken Ishii [Jelly Tones, Garden On The Palm], The Source Experience, Sven Van Hees and Mundo Muzique, whose 'Andromeda' remains a chillout classic.
R&S recently commenced a reactivation programme which has seen classic albums reissued and even new signings like Radio Slave, whose 'Eyes Wide Open' single points at techno's future. The amazing In Order To Dance compilation brings home the stellar quality of the label's output, presenting just a tip of the iceberg.