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Sach O only publishes 1 out of every 10 posts he writes, the rest are exclusive dubs given out to Jeff Weiss, Nate Patrin and Matt Shea.

I suspect our audience can be divided into two camps: those who worship at the altar of the Digital Mystikz (Mala, Coki and Loefah) and those who have no idea who or what the fuck I’m talking about. If you’re part of the latter, you’re certainly forgiven; despite being Dubstep’s single most beloved collective Digital Mystikz have released practically no music outside of their preferred 12-inch vinyl format. Furthermore, even their vinyl output represents but a fraction of the music they’ve produced, as most of it stays confined to exclusive dubplates passed among an elite circle of DJs. This has two effects: 1) Very few outsiders know of them and 2) hardcore heads adore the crew with a cult-like devotion. DMZ’s dedication to dubplate culture, absolutely uncompromised loyalty to their dubwise philosophy and adamant refusal to chase success has made them into heroes for some and unknowns to most. Thankfully, the collective has finally dipped its toes into the digital world with Deep Medi Releases Volumes 1 & 2, the first in a series collecting some of their singles (as well as those of associated acts) on CD, graciously allowing the rest of the world in on one of music’s best kept secrets.

Let’s rewind for a second and untangle some terminology. The GROUP Digital Mystikz are Mala and Coki, two of the original Croydon producers inspired by dark Garage and old-school Jungle whose sparse, half-step sound revolutionized UK bass music throughout the last decade. The CREW Digital Mystikz also includes the equally talented producer Loefah and MC Sgt. Pokes. That quadrant’s original label DMZ released a series of 14 incredibly influential singles, none of which were given second pressings or made available digitally. I doubt they ever will.

DMZ is also the name of the crew’s signature parties in Brixton, of which the most legendary has come to represent the moment where dubstep burst out of the underground as a 600 person-long queue forced the collective to move the event from a small dark room to a larger venue, permanently changing the vibe. Tellingly, fans still pine for the original small dark room. Finally, Deep Medi (short for Deep Meditation) is yet another label run by Mala as an outlet for both his own music as well as that of kindred spirits such as Coki, Loefah, Kromestar, Hijak, Goth-Trad, Quest, Silkie and Tunnidge. “Deep Medi releases” collects that label’s vinyl output on CD for the first time ever.

So how are the tunes? Epic. Loefah’s “Disco Rekah” is an early Def Jam-aping, Busta Rhymes-sampling drum machine monster. Mala’s “Forgive” frames dubstep as deeply sorrowful and hauntingly beautiful warrior music. Anti-Social’s Quest and Silkie deliver a series of highly percussive ambient dubs befitting the label’s meditative namesake, with “The Seafront” doing its best to bring Kode9’s vision of “a rave on the seabed” to life. Even the more aggressive offerings feature a contrasting serenity: Hijak’s “Babylon Timewarp” is heavy dread business and Kromestar’s all-bass wobblers are pure dubstep before the arrival of annoying chainsaw noises. Only Japanese outsider Goth-Trad’s “The Clown” goes into full-on aggression with an 8-bit synth line that’s as terrifying as the prospect of being trapped in a room full of ICP fans.

Taken together, Deep Medi and the Mystikz’s output feels shockingly out of step with the contemporary maladies afflicting popular music, bypassing the aught’s fascination with snickering pop arglebargle and hypocritically capitalistic fooferah. While the pop landscape spent the last decade trying to dance away the horror and most independent musicians lined-up to suck at the corporate teat in exchange for a spot on the “Nick and Norah” soundtrack; DMZ stood as a bastion for unrelentingly dark underground music that will never be used is a God-damned Gap commercial or Super-Bowl add. (Tellingly, the one place you WILL find a Mystikz tune is in the dystopian Sci-fi flick Children of Men…but not on the CD soundtrack.”) While I’m no communist and I admit to finding DMZ’s vinyl-only output maddening, it’s impossible not to respect a group of artists so dedicated to their outsider vision that their music remains made for that small dark room years after they’ve outgrown it, a fact so impressive that it’s easy to forget just how unique that outsider vision is in the first place. If the word Dubstep ever makes the Oxford English dictionary, there’ll be a picture of Mala next to it and it’ll be pronounced DEE-EM-ZED, until then, collectors can save their singles and non-initiates can finally get down to the sounds of some of the baddest selectors in music today.

Note: If you read any of the above, you realize that posting MP3s from these CDs would be in bad taste and would go against the label’s spirit/wishes. As such, we’re linking to a couple of vinyl rips in an effort to promote the label’s music while encouraging folks to support the digital versions.

Download:
MP3: Loefah – Disco Rekah (Left-Click)
MP3: Goth-Trad – The Clown (Left-Click)

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