Falling at the end of the year, December lends itself as a perfect month for retrospection, for looking back at a year and saying either “Damn, things could have gone a lot better” or “Yeah, let’s keep this shi
rolling into 2013,” assuming we avert the Mayan apocalypse predictions. One of the most striking, music-based retrospective statements I find myself making is “Wow, so-and-so should have really caught on more.” And, one of the most enjoyable of said under-the-radar releases comes from Minneapolis duo Elite Gymnastics and their second of the pair of followups to 2011’s RUIN 1
and RUIN 2
. As a set of remixes by artists like How To Dress Well and LOL Boys, RUIN 4
is a spectacularly fluid release. The mix of artists add dimension upon dimension to Gymnastics’ tracks, uncovering a flurry of alternating moods and tones that keep the release interesting. By inviting such diverse acts into their production process and organizing the release with such style and tastefulness, Elite Gymnastics provide where similar, one-dimensional chillwave acts falter.
For instance, there’s a duality to RUIN 4
that characterizes its strength as a unique progression in the blooming (dying? it’s difficult to tell) subgenre culture of chillwave. Upbeat, chorus-centric tracks like “Minneapolis Belongs To You (Cover by Recycle Culture)” would fit nicely in a party playlist in-between an Ellie Goulding remix and poppy electronic a la Swedish House Mafia. But its moody follower “Omamori (Blood Diamonds Remix)” offers a downbeat counterweight that exhibits more clearly the influence from chillwave peers like Blackbird Blackbird and Small Black. More ambient inclusions like the CFCF remix of “Here, In Heaven 4 & 5” are tailored to fit perfectly into the track-listing, and I couldn’t have configured the album better myself after the myriad of listens I’ve allotted to it.
The merits of collective “Best Of... “ lists aside, it’s a shame that Elite Gymnastics are bound to be absent from just about all of them. The culmination of a unique aesthetic filtered through a lens of such diligence deserves recognition. Plus, you’d be hard-pressed to find many purely fun
tracks as How To Dress Well’s remix (which rivals any singular track from Total Loss
, in my eyes) in all its sugary-pop glory. For another take on laid-back electronic with a cinch of indie-pop catchiness, RUIN 4
could not be more suitable. With no glaring flaws, it’s a remix album that perfectly characterizes the direction in which many current electronic acts should head if they want to retain any of the relevance they’ve enjoyed the past few years.