It’s rarely worthwhile to listen to dubstep outside of a live environment. Most canonical tracks are too boring for headphone-listening. It’s functional music, made for mixing. Dubstep needs a DJ and overdimensioned speakers more than any other genre. But what’s called dubstep is arbitrary. Burial is filed away as dubstep, but sounds more like Massive Attack over a twostep beat. Conclusion: it’s only when you add other genres that dubstep becomes headphones-worthy. Like those thugstep-blends. Or Digital Mystikz’ absolutely brilliant What Won’t You Do For Love remix.
Ikonika arrives in the field of dubstep (or Hyperdub, as her label would call it) through structures and sounds from IDM and 8-bit music. That means that the arrangements and sounds are interesting enough for headphones and livingrooms. It’s Dubstep that qualifies as both listening and dance music.
Quarta 330 is another group that master the space between dustep and 8-bit. But I prefer their varied livesets over their releases (which I suppose demand a bit more patience from the listener). Another artist coming close to this sound is Joy Orbison. I especially like Wet Look. But then we’re getting even further away from the traditional sound of dubstep, which is fine I guess. Ideally, dubstep is more a method, a kind of creative launching pad, than a specific style of music.