Since its birth in 2007, Erased Tapes has made a name for itself as one of the most innovative labels of the last 15 years and enjoyed great commercial success. Although some fail to see past its neoclassical shopfront (Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds), the London-based label explores the outer limits of ambient, electronica and experimental with a catalogue that's smoothly curated by the German Robert Raths. Qobuz takes a closer look.

The story of Erased Tapes, now known as one of the world's most avant-garde labels, began with a little-known MySpace page. Robert Raths, a German living in London, was waiting for his career to take off on what was then the leading music industry website, when he realised that his real talent lay in helping other artists break out. One of his contacts on the social network site was a producer named Rival Consoles. The humanity of his haunted synths and broken beats quickly convinced Raths to make him the first signing for his new label.

22-year old Ryan Lee West was a former guitarist who had studied music technology in Leicester. It was probably his sensitive approach to electronic music which seduced the German, who would start off his catalogue with the EP Vemeer (signed under the alias Aparatec) in 2007. West would develop his melancholy, spacey electronica with the minimalist pearl Odyssey in 2013 ("I don’t like music to sound overly laboured, so I restrict how much is going on. I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of reduction"), while creating attention-grabbing remixes for Clark, Max Cooper and Jon Hopkins.

In the late 2000s, as YouTube and Facebook arrived on the scene, MySpace started to dwindle away and Robert Raths came to understand the Internet's ephemeral side. To get a more solid foundation for his label, he decides to expand his stable of artists – but not just any old how. Like a sports coach, the German starts thinking about ways of making his team more competitive. "I was starting to think that this digital thing wasn’t going to last forever, so I started to look for people who complemented each other."

The next on the list would be Ólafur Arnalds. Just turned 20, the Icelander would see Erased Tapes take a turn towards piano music, by way of his 2007 album Eulogy for Evolution (written when he was 17), in which he shows off a virtuoso talent for translating emotion onto the keyboard. “The first track I heard was 3055; I loved how in that quiet part you can hear the sustain pedal louder than the notes", Raths remembers. “He was very ambitious. The record is meant to resemble the life span from birth to death, so all the track titles are time signatures for points in your life. The ‘dying’ part is so interesting, there’s that really hectic, violent solo which is amazing, and then this detuned radio signal just to make sure people understand this is the end. I love how a young Ólafur would come up with that. I’m still super proud of it.