Franck Roger: Extensions Of Yesterday
Circus Company

Though an impressive slew of Franck Roger singles and EPs extends back to 2001, Extensions Of Yesterday is only the second formal long-player to come from the French DJ-producer (and Real Tone Records label head), the first being We Walk To Dance, issued in 2006 on Seasons Limited. Roger's no novice, in other words, and ample evidence can be found on his new eleven-track set. His is a classic sound, one unconcerned with fashion and trends and more intent on crafting house music of depth and quality.

Extensions Of Yesterday opens on a bit of a sci-fi tip when luxurious chords swirl during the brief “I Want You” before getting down to business with the album's first substantial cut “Calixto.” A chugging, synth-guided groove situates the tune firmly in the dancefloor tradition, and the track gradually acquires greater heft as the seconds tick by. It's the subsequent tracks, however, that start to really showcase Roger's skills, especially when “Gossando” and “Feel It” roll out snappy and swinging grooves that are as infectious as they are entrancing.

The album's high point arrives five songs in when Mandel Turner joins Roger for the instant classic “Sands of Time.” The magic starts when Turner's wordless vocal croon glides breezily alongside a prototypically urgent house pulse. Things grow hypnotic when Turner adds a soulful lead vocal to the exuberant mix (“If I could let you sign into the sands of time / I would if I could but it's just so hard to do”), and the tune oozes soul in the best kind of way.

Roger's reputation as a beatmaker get a thorough workout in cuts like “Tension,” which thumps with no small amount of bass thunder, and “Friday,” whose slink exudes a subtle dub-techno vibe. The CD-only “Surrounded” features a radiant melodic line as rapturous as anything Kraftwerk might have created, but Roger's just as interested in the tune's locomotive bottom-end as its melodies. Speaking of low-end, the closing “This World Don't Go Round” hints that the crate-digger could establish himself credibly as a hip-hop beatmaker if he were so inclined. If there's a weakness to the album, it's that, being so strong, “Sands of Time” overshadows the others, suggesting that the album might have been better with a few more vocal cuts, and relatedly, some of the instrumentals flirt with being atmospheric moodpieces. Even so, Roger's work can't be faulted on quality grounds.

July 2013