Mala and Coki, better known as Digital Mystikz, are dubstep OGs. Considering how much that word and that scene have gone through since DM's first release in 2004, it's surprising that their music still hits as hard as it does. Their sound could be a textbook definition of the genre, yet it's hard to call it conservative—even if they're still using the same terrifying dentist-drill synth sound.
Earlier this year, Mala released some solo productions as Return II Space, a three-LP set, under the Digital Mystikz name. With Urban Ethics, it's Coki's turn to offer previously unavailable tracks on high-quality vinyl. Its relevance is hard to locate at first—Coki's sound is more aggressive and less atmospheric than Mala's—but listening through its gloom, it's easy to discern a master at work. Not without its pro-forma tracks (the MIDI melodica lines and fanfare that punctuate of "Old Hope" and "Serious" are wimpy, like Augustus Pablo rendered as videogame music), Urban Ethics still manages to wreck things with fan favorites like "Intergalactic" and "Robotnik."
It's difficult to describe how orthodox dubstep can still sound good, especially when the classic rave and R&B sounds of the '90s have now become the focus of the genre's affections. Building on a style too old to be surprising and too new to be nostalgic, Urban Ethics is not a record with the potential to appeal to a general audience. Mala's Return II Space is clearly the moody one for dubstep aesthetes; Urban Ethics is more precise and functional. If you need this, it's likely you already ordered a copy. For everyone else, Urban Ethics says that dubstep is alive and well, and that the world is still probably going to end soon.