With less than half a month left of this year, I think the time is right for VS’s annual awards to surface. We, of course, start with the most difficult title of them all, Label of the Year.
Depending on one’s reasoning, an imprint can receive this award either due to the quality of releases, artists it features or variety in terms of format / music genres. There is that tiny chance the winner can be picked due to meeting all three characteristics outlined in the previous sentence. As it so happens, this low odds situation has somehow manifested in 2016.
Though the shortlist included well known imprints like Pure Trance, Lost Language, Black Hole Recordings and JOOF Recordings, the winner came as a surprise even to me. A label I had expressed a strong interest in a couple of years ago, and one which deserves this title without question: Research & Development Records.
Since these posts were never intended to provide shallow, drive by arguments, a more in depth reasoning can be found below.
If this is the first time you’ve encountered the name of this imprint, you are understandably confused. Let me help.
This Northern England-based record label was co-founded by two very interesting DJs / Producers: Alan Ruddick and John Dopping. For as long as I’ve known of their work (detailed here), not once have I seen either go the “trendy” route of releasing music. In a scene obsessed with popularity contests, loudness and overall bland productions, these two stick out like a sore thumb. Their approach to production is reflected in the way they run Research & Development, focusing on quality, diversity and just plain creativity when it comes to the tracks they choose to feature.
Sure, you’ll say. That’s all well and good, but Alan & John didn’t invent creativity. There are countless other imprints out there which can be characterised much the same way.
Though true, the tiny paragraph above fails to take into account one detail: this – arguably – great wall of text is being written by a person, not an AI. Someone whose music preference has been influenced by what these two have featured on their label. They’ve opened my eyes to genres I didn’t even consider looking into before, and I couldn’t be more grateful. This is why I believe the Label of the Year title is more than well deserved.
To stem the tide of nitpicking internet people, I shall also provide the releases in the next section. Don’t take my opinion as good, go ahead and listen for yourself.
Opku – Atchoom EP – VS review
Release Date: 25.01.2016
Includes: Atchoom, Ghetto Pirates, Gjamfe
John Dopping – Words In Colour Rephrased, Vol. 1 – VS review
Release Date: 28.03.2016
Includes: Where Do I Begin (Alan Ruddick Remix), Chayote (Chris Voro Remix), Malady (DeCode Remix)
Chris Voro – A Universe Inside You EP – VS review
Release Date: 16.05.2016
Includes: Original, Micky Noise, Harmonic Rush mixes
Dulcet – The End EP – VS review
Release Date: 04.07.2016
Includes: The End, Roundabout
Opku – You’re A Balloon EP
Release Date: 08.08.2016
Includes: You’re A Balloon, Fucking Right, Pot Bot Pop
Monsieur Pourquoi – Décadence EP – VS review
Release Date: 21.11.2016
Includes: Décadence, Balade Nocturne, Balade Nocturne (John Dopping Nightfall)
Clicking all those links is bound to give you some mild form of RSI, so here, have a playlist:
If past releases are any indication, Research & Development Records has a bright and diverse future ahead, one I’m very eager to see. Be sure to follow these folks via Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud so you won’t miss a damn thing.
Check back tomorrow for VS’s 2016 Album of the Year. 🙂