It was just about a year ago that Franck Roger dismantled (or at least mothballed) his label Real Tone at its peak. Real Tone broke a number of artists internationally (Maya Jane Coles, whose work since hasn’t surpassed it; Sascha Dive was another artist that received a pretty massive boost after a Real Tone release) as well as casting an umbilicus from the modern Deep House movement to its spiritual ancestors by, for instance, saving DJ Gregory from Defected’s natural and artificially flavored cheese purgatory.
But you saw this coming in a series of manifestoes from Roger that were becoming progressively more strident, more shrill, and then an album, Extensions of Yesterday, which seemed designed to deliberately antagonize the V-Necked masses while doing Deep House better than they ever dreamed. I gave Extensions the highest rating we have, and a year later it’s still one of a small handful of albums that I listen to regularly.
And now: Roger has gone back underground, dancing on Real Tone’s ashes with a deliberately modest, low-key approach. Home Invasion is the label, and this is the 4th release. It’s presented without flashy art and no trace of Roger’s strident pronunciamentos on the state of the scene.
Low-key and low-fi. This stripped-back aesthetic when it comes to marketing is reflected in the sound of these records, in which Roger has tapered down his tools to a few essential instruments and the overall tone to a very narrow palette. Functionally stripped to the floorboards and the studs, you’d call something like “Balance” “Tech House”, I guess, or Deep House but without what’s become the token clichés (short, indecipherable vocal samples and wobbly chords plotted as rigidly as if the songs were written on graph paper.) “Balance” and “Deep Theory” carry this across best; “Nebula” less so.