Although barely a year has passed since Tim Van de Meutter (a.k.a Locked Groove) released his debut EP via Hotflush, the Belgian artist has already made a fairly immense impression. This year's XLR8R Pick'd Heritage saw him return to Scuba's label as one of its most important signings, cementing his credentials as a producer and DJ with a natural gift for combining melodic creativity, loving nostalgia, and serious floor-filling grooves. His follow-up 12" finds Van de Meutter taking another significant step forward, as he inaugurates his eponymous label with a pair of rave-ready tracks that are lively, playful, and immediately likeable.
Both "Waves" and "Shirts Off" are examples of Van de Meutter at his upfront best. At its heart, "Waves" is a classic piece of warehouse-friendly house built around an exceptionally meaty 4/4 beat and a filtered hook. The track has a few unexpected moves up its sleeve, though: Van de Meutter repeatedly teases an anthemic synth riff before pulling it back to dive into some surprisingly hard-hitting territory. But he twists it again, eventually letting the whole thing unfold into full-blown, peak-time melodic bliss.
Meanwhile, the b-side turns the rave nostalgia up even further. It opens with a shamelessly old-school piano riff that provides the centerpiece to a weighty collage of classic sounds sourced from '90s crossover dance music, but Van de Meutter's compositional skills keep things from straying to the wrong side of retro indulgence. Locked Groove paints with a knowingly vintage collection of sounds and textures on both sides of his 12", but creates end results that—while not exactly revolutionary—certainly sound like him, rather than mere copies of the artists he's referencing. There may be some who begrudge the producer for his recent move toward straightforward, classically minded house and techno sounds, but if he continues to roll out bold and likeable tunes like these, there will undoubtedly be a larger contingent without any complaints.