Along with grime, it was the key UK genre on the rise when we were an up-and-coming London magazine, and our early issues featured some of the first interviews with key dubstep artists like Digital Mystikz (and had reviews penned by Kode9). As we shifted our focus to the FACT website in 2008-2009, artists like Untold, Joker, Zomby and Ikonika were pulling the genre in new directions before the whole thing ended up somewhere else entirely. There’s a reason it’s taken us so long to do this list.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Burial as dubstep was gathering steam. Almost overnight fans from across the electronic music spectrum were coming out of the woodwork to sing the praises of a producer who, for all we knew, could have been anyone. Even Four Tet. Honestly, it’s the albums that really cemented his sound, but when South London Boroughs dropped there was a palpable sense that this was something very, very special. Burial, whoever he was, had managed to unite Basic Channel-obsessed dub techno purists, gloomy electronica nerds, bottle-popping garage casuals and legions of bedroom DJs confused why it was so bloody hard to mix.
Rumour has it that ‘Qawaali’ wasn’t just Tectonic boss Pinch’s first proper solo release (‘War Dub’ was a collaboration with P Dutty, now better known as Emptyset’s James Ginzburg), it was the first tune he’d ever made in Fruityloops. This cavernous simplicity is what sets it apart from the competition, and had he known more about production, he might have derailed it with needless technical trickery. As it stands, there are only a few elements – the massive, undulating sub has the room it needs to work its gut-churning magic at volume. Pure anthem.