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Album Review: Listen Up, It's Lockgroove

By Benjamin E. Lytal, Crimson Staff Writer

Lockgroove was formed in 1996 and has been a regular at local clubs for years. Both the Boston Phoenix and the Cambridge Tab consider the band one of the best, most promising local rock acts in years. And both the Harvard Advocate and The Harvard Crimson agree with the Phoenix and the Tab. When Lockgroove (whose bassist Dave Goodman is a graduate of the Class of '98) plays the Advocate tonight, only neighbors with poor musical taste will complain about their loud sound.

Lockgroove's name is dangerously self-descriptive. It makes clear that band locks onto grooves. But it does not make clear that these grooves are more like the deep, black grooves of a rock record than the groovy grooves of jazz. The band's dense style may resemble the deep, black, concentric grooves of records, but their first release is actually on compact disc. The name of the CD is Rewired. That name is also descriptive; since the album was released in mid-1998, Lockgroove's sound is sure to have changed--to have been rewired, so to speak.

To say that it is only the passage of time that rewires Lockgroove, however, would not do justice to their experimental nature. This calls for another explication of the band's name: when Lockgroove locks on a groove in live concert, it may well be a groove even they have never heard before. Much space in the music sections of Boston periodicals has been dedicated to talk of Lockgroove's improvisation, jamming and "free space." This is especially since the band plays a key role in organizing and enlivening Boston's famed Deep Heaven underground events.

Improvisation can be challenging to listen to. But Lockgroove combines improvisation with repetition. New melodies are repeated until they become entrancing. This combination of experimentation and hypnotizing repetition makes for a psychedelic sound.

Even though it is a recording, Rewired does show this trippy quality. While the album's blurry red cover art does indicate Lockgroove's hard, masculine sound, it doesn't convey how psychedelic that music can be. It throbs, like a beating red heart. "Come On," a signature track, uses minutes of wavy keyboard woven in with guitar and cymbals to introduce a rhythmic fusion of rock and elecronic music. Soon half-chanty, half-punky lyrics join in and there are occasional whistles and bells. But ultimately the sound is full of relentless waves of guitar, drum and keyboard.

That Lockgroove's psychedelic music throbs with guitars and drums may not appeal to everyone. But it makes up for the lack of prettiness. A murky, hard sound where lyrics are often submerged challenges the listener to let Lockgroove's music take over the body. This relationship between music like Lockgroove's and a pulsing, head-bobbing body should make for a good concerts, and listening to Rewired will probably pale in comparison to seeing the band live.

Lockgroove may not be independent and local for long. Like many vaguely underground things, the band currently doesn't sound as polished as more mainstream acts. However, this is a redeeming quality. Lockgroove isn't produced to sound like the next big thing. And like any band that is not yet famous, it would be a shame to listen to them with their future in mind. The group has a voluminous sound that invites attention from head to toe. Indeed, Lockgroove goes deeper than the cutting edge.

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