Andrew Wowk, Sydney - Australia - on 6/2/12
Belgian newcomer Locked Groove is already off to a flying start: Rooted is his debut 12” and it’s on none other than Hotflush Recordings, a label that is already approaching “legendary” status despite its relative youth. Three tracks of genre-bending vibes that grab the listener from start to finish, Rooted is a must-buy for fans of house and techno.
The title track starts off with warm, delightful pads that are gradually accompanied by rough, old-school percussion, a bouncy analogue bassline, and choppy vocals, creating an up-beat yet at the same time restrained mood. When the track breaks out though, it really breaks out. A brash, ravey acid line replaces the chords from earlier in the track and Rooted turns into a smashing acid house cut. But the evolution isn’t over yet: the pads from the beginning of the track slowly filter back into the mix (along with some added chord stabs), and the track finishes sounding like something that came out of Detroit during the 90s. A masterful example of progression.
Drowning merges grinding, industrial techno rhythms in the low-end with up-tempo, ravey fun in the mids and highs. The stomping kick is heavily reverbed at the very lowest frequencies, creating a rolling bassline that fills in the space between each kick, a classic “Berghain techno” production trick. Drum rolls and edits taken from field recordings occasionally pepper the mix, giving the track some swing and a certain organic feeling, while two harsh, synths intertwine to create a simple rhythm which is extremely effective.
The EP is rounded out with Change, a melodic deep house number which is smooth in vibe but rough in production, making it feel right at home alongside tunes from Theo Parrish, Omar S and the like. A hypnotic chord perpetually hums throughout the entire track, slowly rising and falling in volume and changing key. This forms a harmonic basis around which crunchy, slightly distorted percussion is built, and this is later accompanied by some light chord stabs and vocal loops. The spoken word during the breakdown feels somewhat unnecessary, but it’s not enough to bring the tune down when everything else in it is just so right.
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