More than a decade removed from the days of shitty dial-up and dorky America Online e-mail addresses, the near-miraculousness of the Internet tends to escape us sometimes. But Elite Gymnastics embrace the internet with the Geocities era’s spirit of optimism and wonder. That’s the simplest way to explain James Brooks and Josh Clancy’s ongoing Ruin project, for which the band and label Acéphale Records earlier today announced two new installments. Last year’s Ruin, originally released as a free download but also available in a lavish, watermelon-design vinyl edition (with gorgeous full-color lyric booklet) via Acéphale, used au courant online trends as a Trojan horse for getting across its wonderfully wrought blend of Balearic dance beats and deeply felt indie pop. K-pop? Chillwave? Lil B? Mad Men GIFs? About the only “highly bloggable” (with apologies to Carles) angles the Minneapolis-based duo didn’t try to exploit were Lana Del Rey and #seapunk. (They even recently played a hometown gig next door to Odd Future.)
Ruin actually consists of two distinct works, Ruin 1 and Ruin 2, with the second a set of reworkings of the first, slowed down and opened up almost as if chopped and screwed. Now, as Elite Gymnastics get set to go on their first real tour next month opening for Sleigh Bells, they’ve unveiled Ruin 3, which, fittingly, is a website — go there and you can download reworkings of Ruin‘s songs by CFCF, How to Dress Well, Physical Therapy, and more. The group has also revealed Ruin 4, which, in the spirit of like-minded label Sincerely Yours, comprises not only a CD including previously unreleased material but also a T-shirt, poster, and three buttons; you can pre-order the package here.
To coincide with the announcement, Elite Gymnastics have shared CFCF’s reinterpretation of Ruin‘s “Here, in Heaven,” which they’ve retitled “Here, in Heaven 4 & 5” (or, if you’re a stickler for formatting, “h e r e i n h e a v e n 4 & 5”). The Montreal producer born Mike Silver’s upcoming April 24 release Exercises shifts masterfully from the nocturnal glide of his previous work to, like the recent reissue Music With Less Electricity by past CFCF associate Johan Agebjörn, mostly contemplative piano pieces. Where the Ruin 1 version of “Here, in Heaven” is serotonin-rushing rave-pop, and the slow-paced Ruin 2 version is heady, bass-heavy futurism reminiscent of Clams Casino or Holy Other, CFCF’s reworking is a ravishing, eight-minute orchestral-pop take that flexes Silver’s classical chops while reinforcing the song’s underlying sadness. “What happens to us if we accept that I’m unfixable?” goes a pitched-up vocal. “It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK / I didn’t mean what I said.” Every word is true.