James Brooks and Josh Clancy are the Minneapolis-based electronic duo Elite Gymnastics. The pair began making music together in 2008 and released their first EP, Real Friends, in 2010. In 2011, the band self-released more material including the EP Neu! ‘92, and two EPs entitled Ruin, all through their Psychedelic Surf Club label. However, the duo hadn’t received a lot of press until they released the mix titled All We Fucking Care About Is K-Pop, Whitehouse, and Our Cats, which not only displayed their fondness for K-Pop but also featured some of their favorite K-Pop songs. This led to the band being signed by Acephale Records, which re-released their two Ruin EPs as one album. May 2012 brought the release of Ruin 4, which features two previously unheard tracks from the Ruin Sessions, and all of the remixes from Ruin 3.
Elite Gymnastics are compellingly eclectic, original, and disorienting (in a pleasant way). The Minneapolis based electronic duo makes a dreamy whirlwind of sounds that span the last couple of decades of mainstream and underground indie and dance music: jungle, rave, house, shoegaze, dreampop. Then there's their imagery and Tumblr. The group's 2011 album Ruin's cover is filled with brightly colored illustrations and Korean characters. A sampling of their tumblr consists of various gifs (flashing black and white letters reading FUCK REAL LIFE), link to a “kewl” flash website that looks like the most mind blowing art project ever made with Microsoft products circa 1997, some classy minimalistic photos, and a mix of songs titled “All we fucking care about is kpop whitehouse and our cats.” In short, these guys seem to be winning the Internet, and deflecting my ability to get a read on exactly who they are and what they're going for. But maybe that is what they're going for, hyper-eclecticism until it stops being something grounded in reference points you're used to, and becomes something you just need to experience rather than analyze.
For all the weird playfulness, one of Elite Gymnastics' biggest selling points is how earnest they are. “Omamori” is a slice of airy electronic shoegaze and bright steel drum-style synths give it an endearing sense of nostalgia. In contrast to the vague or generic lyrics you might expect, they sing “I bought this amulet because I am afraid of death and because you are my best friend/and I am afraid that will end.” Sung with childlike sincerity, it's totally at odds with what you'd expect from dreamy dance music, and works strangely well. “Little Things” somehow splits the difference between twee, industrial, and dreamy dance pop; sort of like a cuddly version of The Cure (after they got goth-y) mixed with Washed Out. It's gritty, meditative, and affecting.
Elite Gymnastics' dense mix of quick moving percussion, psychedelic synths and pretty vocals takes some patience to unfurl, but delve into it, it's an experience.