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Meta Four

I didn't write any of that.


Vinyl Scratch, the mare behind DJ PON-3’s purple shades, is boldly exploring new frontiers of electronic dance music. Meanwhile, Spilt Ink, music critic for Sound on Sound magazine, is just as boldly exploring how far he can stick his head up his own rectum.

Trace the trajectory of one mare’s career—and one stallion’s sanity—through this peek into the music world’s sordid underbelly: the album reviews.

“If you want to see a pure distillation of the most conceited reviewership possible, look no further!” —Chris
“Overimportant pretentiousness ...” —Present Perfect
“The complete verbal destruction evoked from this critic is so outstandingly cruel, it feels like I’m viewing a different kind of art.” —Tired Old Man
“Enough WUT in it to potentially scare away some readers.” — PaulAsaran

Sold out on 31 Jan 2017.

This story can be enjoyed on its own, or as a companion piece to Octaves, by JapaneseTeeth. Basically, JT asked me to help with the music reviews in one chapter of his story. I enjoyed writing in the voice of a stuck-up indie music critic so much, I couldn’t stop myself from writing more, and then this story happened.

Big thanks to my pre-readers/editors:
EQD Pre-reader 63.546

Cover art kludged together by yours truly. Vinyl Scratch vector by hfbn2. Sound on Sound logo is a parody of the Consequence of Sound logo.

Chapters (6)
Comments ( 85 )

This is awesome.

The Shining and Star Power, very nice.

It's incomprehensible sommelier-speak at its finest, and with metaphors that occasionally approach brilliance.

I keep hammering the follow button, but it just keeps turning on and off.

/me looks at 7874063 and the at how late it is.

Not even gonna try andmimic that... Yah this is awesome.

Soooooo much snark that this physically hurts.

The final was breathtaking.I think I'm suffocating... Please send help.

So many levels to this hilarity, but the review score is the perfect punchline.

This is truly glorious insanity. Or typical music journalism. I honestly can't tell. :derpytongue2:

Glad you all like it.

The rest of this fic is already written, and I'll publish the chapters on Wednesday and Friday.

7875184 I'll have to publish my research notes as a blog post after this is finished. Nearly everything Spilt Ink writes is based on something a real life music critic wrote, but no single person in real life wrote this much nonsense, to my knowledge.

A first chapter clubbing you on the head and pulling you in a dark alley. It attracted you with a promise of faux-sophistication and delivered you a cowardly stab of depth in the kidneys.

7875618 I'm not sure what to make of that.

Have you ever considered writing music reviews? If you can keep coming up with metaphors like that, there might be a place for you at Sound on Sound.

I can be like a Griffonian Chain-whipping. It keeps coming, you want it only to stop and you have no idea how you ended there.

Oh, and I liked the first chapter:pinkiehappy:

Hunting for music in postapocalyptic Canterlot... I wonder if Inky went on to write The End of Ponies?:rainbowlaugh:

...now I've made myself sad.:fluttershysad: RIP

7877051 Sometimes I wonder, what if my music collection were perfectly preserved? What if, somehow, my collection were future researchers' only record of this century? They'd probably come to some weird conclusions about society, because my collection is odd.

Huh. Metacriticism. Wasn't expecting that. I wonder if Vinyl ever saw this one.

7879003 Rip Fork implies that he's gotten letters from his own readers, accusing him of being obsessed with Spilt Ink. I like to think that one of those letters came from Vinyl.

So, did he print a meme in the paper? Because that's super-unprofessional.

A welcome divergence from madness.

Rolling Stone? Is that you?

That is an offensive stance against the old tradition of getting paid for rambling on and on and probably being drunk while doing so.

Rip Fork is letting Vinyl Scratch, her fans and THE MARE oppress a noble, lysergic word slinger for exactly what? Money? Coherence? Integrity? Music?

As if the TRUE readers of Sound on Sound were interested in music. If they went that low they would buy that editorial dreg known as Sedimentary Schist (redundancy is redundant).

7879247 The scary part is, there was a real-life precedent for this. More about that when I publish the last chapters.

7879313 Spoken just like a plebe who doesn't understand Spilt Ink’s literary brilliance. Or like (shudder) a DJ PON-3 fan.

7879592 See, this pony gets it. The writer doesn’t exist for our sake, to pander to every whim of the masses; we exist to appreciate the writer.

Just gotta say I'm really glad that one of my stories prompted this. I really like how it turned out. :raritystarry:

Demilitarized Dairy Dwelling: In the Airship over the Ocean

I see what you did there.

I needed the annotations to properly appreciate more than half of the references (and to even realize some were references,) but I still greatly enjoyed this. Plus, it pointed me at the prequel, which was also a great read. Thank you for this. 9.7/10 It wasn't bad. :raritywink:

Bugger, forgot to track.

Artists are complicated. On both sides of the pen.

Self-indulgency (which should be a word if it isn't) cab be quite a pleasant read, like in this case.

Nice work and nice conclusion.

Thank you all.

7884565 I'm tickled pink that the drummer on that album went on to form a Balkan-inspired folk band.

7884586 Honestly, the references are just a music version of the technobabble from every SF movie ever. Hipsterbabble.

(and to even realize some were references,)

I think that means those references were the ones I wrote best.

7884914 No, no, no, Spilt Ink is a simple pony (a simple pony with complex tastes). It's just that the masses are too dense to appreciate him.

7884924 Now I'm thinking of "Insecurities", which got an RCL feature—and which the author outright called "Blatant self-insertion and gratuitous wish fulfillment."

I did not know I needed this in my life. The delicious absurdity, the impenetrable obsessive metaphors, the pony telling the other pony that said other pony clearly has a hate-crush on Vinyl Scratch...

What an unexpected interlude. Delightfully unexpected.

7893539 Writing badly is surprisingly fun.

Enjoyable so far. The beats keep coming like that throbbing in your head you can't tell if it's the subwoofer a mere foot from your skull or an aneurysm about to chuck you in that carriage to split a fare with Emily Dickinson, but either way, you wouldn't want to be anywhere else. When you find that one light in the blurry sky that can say exactly what your life has been without using a single useless word, you gotta lasso that bitch down and hold on to her until your flesh stops charring. That one song, that perfect, brings-you-to-your-knees-but-makes-you-beg-for-more beat that twenty years later will still make you grin, even if you're lying trashed and broken outside the bad liquor store—it stays with you. And you can't thank the artist for it, because she didn't do it for you. That's always the tragedy, huh? That you can watch and listen and love and stand there feeling like something in your life mattered for once, that someone understood, but you'll never be a part of it. You just buy the album so maybe she'll do it again.

7895183 Wow.

I think you got something very different out of this chapter than what I strictly meant, but it's beautiful all the same.

And you can't thank the artist for it, because she didn't do it for you. That's always the tragedy, huh? That you can watch and listen and love and stand there feeling like something in your life mattered for once, that someone understood, but you'll never be a part of it. You just buy the album so maybe she'll do it again.


Sometimes the artist really appreciates hearing what their fans get out of the music.

7896185 It's not so much that artists don't get anything out of someone appreciating their work. It's more that while that appreciation can motivate the artist, it's unlikely to inspire her. So you're left giving them what support you can, which is almost always going to be in the form of patronage, and hope they can come up with something more that speaks to you just as much.

Anyway, I wasn't commenting on the chapter's content so much as riffing on the adoration of this DJ PON-3 group your fictional critic is enamored with.

Of all the reactions... I didn't expect that one.

7900922 Vinyl's reaction. Or lack thereof, I guess.

7900927 Ah, yes. I just figured that at this point in Vinyl’s career, she's got enough confidence to shrug off some negative reviews. Mainly because this is a spinoff of JapaneseTeeth’s Octaves, which showed Vinyl, earlier in her career, earning that confidence.

7873991 BLUH BLUH

I just now remembered about GaPJAxie's "Dressing Room" and its sequels. I guess that makes my use of the name Star Power a subconscious shout-out. It's sure as heck not a crossover, because this fic is supposed to fit into the show's canon.

Someone knows who the KLF are, Also know as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.....Furthermore known as the Jams......

7912855 "They called me up in Tennessee / said: Tammy, stand by the JAMs..."

By the way, did you hear they're reuniting in October?


Damn you..... DAMN YOU - You wrote this so well I was legit excited to hear these tracks myself, only to realise that they don't actually exist. CURSES.

7913584 Oops.

As a consolation prize: I didn't have any specific songs in mind that I modeled Vinyl’s work after... but after I finished writing this chapter I stumbled upon Hybrid's song "True to Form", which actually fits a lot of the traits I mentioned. It's got wubs, orchestral strings, and even a New Order bassline. The big difference is that it's trance rather than dubstep.

I love it.


7914327 Oohhh me like very muchly.

Also can I just say Luna's "letter" was the singularly most hilariously unexpected thing I've ever had the pleaseure of being smacked out from left field with? It's glorious. XD


That would be really weird as they are still wanted on copyright infringment charges for most of the last album.

As self-indulgent as this is, I really liked this story. I only wish that you managed to pull this off without having to use that scene at the club, but really, that is just nitpicking.

7916045 You’re the second person to comment that this would have been stronger if I had kept it completely epistolary. (The other was the EQD pre-reader.) I'm not sure if my own thoughts are a real defense of the club scene, or just my being defensive.

7916730 I like the scene itself, and I think it is really important for the story, but it does break immersion quite a bit.

I came here from Chris's review, and I wasn't disappointed. This was all fantastic. Not being a frequent reader of music reviews, this captured the tone of what it's parodying perfectly for me. I really got an impression of this scene which I otherwise have nothing to do with, and that's a feat in itself. Moreover, I think I really learned something about music and reviewing culture, and had fun doing it. It's a good fic. Thanks for writing it.

7938163 Glad you liked it! I do love stories that use a limited perspective to evoke impressions of a larger world, so I'm glad I was able to accomplish that here.

Author Interviewer

What a gassy windbag! I love this already. :D

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