8 Essential Second-Wave Dubstep Pioneers

Dubstep – that bone rattling, two-step groove synonymous with the UK’s bass-obsessed underground — is one of the most complex musical subcultures to emerge in the last decade. Since its early rumblings ten years ago, this gritty, wonky spin-off of drum ‘n bass/UK garage has stayed somewhat insulated within the confines of its birthplace, London. But by 2008, something unexpected had happened: dubstep had become an international phenomenon, filling not basements, but fields with bass-hungry youth craving its sonorous sound.

Now we’re witnessing a new wave of stateside dubstep. With domestic talent such as Starkey and FaltyDL honing reputations as dubstep innovators, American sound alchemists have taken up the torch to lead this low-end revolution onward. These fresh faces have boldly ventured beyond London’s regimented formula, shaved off a layer or two of its dark, heavy edge, and injected it with homegrown styles of New York garage, hip-hop, West Coast breaks, techno-soul, and instrumental reggae. New age dubstep? Deepstep? Call it what you will; we’ve rounded up eight American acts at the forefront of bass culture’s new wave. After the jump, sample the sounds of dubstep’s future.

1. Starkey
Hailing from Philadelphia, this young producer serves soulful platters of melodic, downtempo dubstep that has UK stalwarts such as Mary Ann Hobbs nodding with approval. Following his impressive debut album, 2008’s Ephemeral Exhibits, comes Ear Drums and Black Holes, out this week. Floating on melodic synths and sweet vocals, the tracks on this album carry a crisp, blissful sound. Smooth and ethereal, this watered-down dubstep will perk up the ears of any electronic music junkie.