Review Summary: Even with the brony fandom on his side, DJ Pon-3 doesn't do much to escape the grip of dubstep monotony.
Would you ever have expected that a dubstep artist would don the moniker of a fictional DJ from the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
cartoon? The Czech Republic’s Tommy Scraton did just that. It’s become almost mythical seeing how a television show like My Little Pony
can instantly become a viral juggernaut among the internet, so much so that you simply cannot escape the fandom’s influence. Right now, it’s an unstoppable force on Youtube. But while the fan parodies slowly spread throughout the video streaming site, Scraton took a different approach. While he shared the name DJ Pon-3
with the cartoon’s character, Scraton let his music do the talking. As a dubstep artist, DJ Pon-3 doesn’t do much to distance himself from the many other musicians in his field, but those small, but subtle twists on the dubstep formula manage to make his premiere EP, Skream Me Some More
, more than just fuel for the fandom.
Interestingly enough, not many of the songs on Skream Me Some More
have much to do with the brony fandom. Aside from a few brief samples from the show (and some from fan-created productions from Youtube), a majority of the songs abandon the brony tag completely, instead motioning toward the tried-and-true fundamentals seen in artists like SKisM
. Bizarre samples, grinding bass drops and a flood of noise from here to there; it’s all here.
But those that make use of the fandom that fuels Scraton’s popularity on Youtube are the ones that prove the most interesting. The title track is a surprisingly adept use of the samples from the show, along with some other vocal lines from Jessi “Nowacking” Nowack, a long-time voice actress for online videos from the My Little Pony
fandom. Her voice is noticeably poignant compared to the meme-induced fervor seen from the show’s samples and it’s very smart of Scraton to use it, mostly to keep the sound’s energetic and visceral machine oiled. Another solid track, “Big in Da Clubs”, tones down the heavy rhythmic noise in favor of a quieter siren-esque vocal sample, bringing an ethereal and atmospheric tone onto the forefronts of the album, even when the grubby bass drops sneak their way in.
Many of tracks throughout Skream Me Some More
suffer from the pitfalls that dubstep has brought about since the genre hit commercial success. The formula of subtle, but noisy sounds moving toward a massive sample-started bass drop is done to death in the entire genre and DJ Pon-3 doesn’t do enough to stray away from that abused tactic. The fact that this idea is used so frequently makes the random noise inserted throughout the rest of the track all the more noticeable. Like his more critically panned peers, DJ Pon-3 doesn’t give this random noise a purpose, almost as if it’s just to fill space while he fiddles with his effects and the impending bass drop appears. Songs like “Rock’n’growl” and “Bun It Get Hectic” are the biggest offenders here, sinking into monotony before even the two-minute mark hits. The more refined sounds are buried under intrusive cacophony and beats that never shift into anything unique.
The steady uses of reggae-inspired vocals and tempos are quite possibly DJ Pon-3’s most interesting feature. “U No Commansenana” features a scattered and light-footed vocal verse, all with a rapid-tap revving chorus, while the bass drops frequently. The bass isn’t too low, and even when you hear a sample that sounds suspiciously like that of The Legend of Zelda
, it stays exciting. The tempo also benefits from the reggae influence; it’s a jamming and mellow pace that never punches you in the face. However, while this is pretty cool to hear, the reggae vocals tend to overstay their welcome, especially when three or four tracks in a row use the same vocals.
Scraton isn’t doing anything new with his work as DJ Pon-3 and it can almost feel like his popularity is established entirely by My Little Pony
fans on Youtube. But this interest in one of the weirdest fandoms in internet history has given him some initiative to experiment with sampling and change up the pacing of these club tracks. If he tried a little harder to establish something new with the dubstep world, maybe through tempo changes or more enticing uses of atmosphere in between the sample and drop, he could bring this genre out of its stagnancy. Right now, though, Skream Me Some More
is an okay introduction to this hero among the bronies, but let’s hope his future efforts don’t coast on this fandom or this genre’s established aesthetics.