Locked Groove, Rooted

Image by Guy Laramee

[Hotflush Recordings]

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Another year, another spate of new artists we’re supposed to get excited about. Through the deluge of “producers to watch” and other similarly idealized features, sometimes there are new talents that are worth getting excited about all on their own. Hotflush starts off its 2012 with the debut from Belgian producer Locked Groove, and it’s the kind of confident and assured debut many artists could only hope for.

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A-side, “Rooted,” might not be trance, but it has a bit in common with the ecstatic, vaguely proggy tendencies Scuba displayed on last year’s “Adrenalin.” Putting aside its padded-metal kick drum, everything about “Rooted” is in gentle soft focus, but it’s not a hypnagogic haze; rather, all the elements are just slightly blurred, pleasantly smearing together, whether it’s the chord progression that coats the background in dust trails or the flattened, splattered snares that sound like they’re trying to scale the track’s smooth surface. “Rooted” develops remarkably organically over its nine minutes, chugging and chugging without so much as a breakdown, but its repetitive samples and frenetic bass line subtly shift gears and change track while keeping the whole track in uniform shape. A little exhausting and utterly inexhaustible, “Rooted” manages to touch on a lot of trends in “bass music” without sounding like it’s got a foot stuck in any one camp.

The two B-sides don’t quite share the shock-and-awe factor, but they’re pleasant enough genre exercises in that same glossy Locked Groove palette. “Drowning” is a marching techno thumper, giving the kick drum all the visceral force it lacked in the velvety “Rooted,” while “Change” leans closer to deep house and garage, loosing those microscopic vocal samples and supple chords underneath an insistent but careful kick pattern. With a unique sensibility for polish and finesse and one of the early highlights of 2012 in “Rooted,” Tim Van de Meutter is indeed one of those “artists to watch.”

Tweak  on January 22, 2012 at 6:33 AM

This is okay and I wouldn’t have a negative thing to say about it if it was released on Rush Hour or whatever, but it’s such a pity that Hotflush has turned into a mediocre House label.

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