After first appearing on Scuba's 2011 DJ Kicks contribution with "Drowning," Locked Groove has added two new selections alongside that heavy-handed track and given us the first full glimpse into his abilities via his debut EP, Rooted.
Scuba's Hotflush imprint initially seems like a strange fit for the Belgian producer, whose style is much more based in the realms of deep house and undulating techno than the UK-indebted, post-dubstep sounds often found on the label. But as Rooted unfolds, an underlying soulfulness becomes apparent, and Locked Groove's place amongst the Hotflush roster starts to make sense. Opening the effort up is the title track, a nine-minute endeavor which begins in a more celestial region of house, floating along this way for a few minutes. Gradually, the track moves into much heavier territory as a deep, four-on-the-floor pattern peaks through, followed closely by an incomprehensible amalgamation of distorted vocal samples and an overdriven arpeggio. Closing number "Change" moves in a similar fashion, taking a bit longer to reach its groove, but again staying sunken in the big drums, monstrous percussion, and thick stabs for the entirety of its run (except for a brief moment of rest used to highlight a slowed-down excerpt from a Derrick May interview).
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Rooted EP is its consistent sonic theme—almost every sound is intentionally overdriven, giving each track a crunchiness that exists somewhere between Blawan's bombastic drums and Gerry Read's gritty house productions. This is especially true on the aforementioned "Drowning," a song which relies almost completely on its programmed rhythms and overheated textures to push it along. Locked Groove even goes so far as to add an unwavering, high-pitched tone, something that's only faintly audible above it all. Whether this is a result of his massive culmination of distortions, or simply an attempt to render the tune even more eccentric, it certainly works, and it is details like this that make the entire Rooted EP a rather impressive debut.