While stuck indoors waiting out hurricane Irene last weekend, I was introduced to Korean superstar girl-group 2NE1 via their reality show on YouTube. The music of 2NE1 (and K Pop in general) is sort of a grab bag of Western top 40, produced and executed with every cultural reference point (hip-hop, R&B, house, electro, adult contemporary) assembled without regard for the greater implications or genre expectations we usually associate with the music. While this may sound cynical from an outsider’s perspective, for 2NE1 its exactly the opposite; what’s more earnest than collecting and reorganizing music based solely on whatever sounds cool?
Which brings us to Minneapolis duo Elite Gymnastics, who recently released a mix called “All We Fucking Care About Is Kpop Whitehouse And Our Cats”—a title that sounds like a joke, until you actually listen to the thing. Let’s be clear: New single “Omamori” off their RUIN EP (out in December) doesn’t try to replicate the Korean pop of the mixtape (or sound like K-Pop whatsoever), but there’s still the sense that Elite Gymnastics operate under the same use whatever-sounds-nice philosophy as K-Pop producers. In the past, this meant sampling videogame theme music; with “Omamori” it’s more subtle. “Omamori” takes the comforting fuzzwave aesthetic that we’ve seen so much of recently, and backs it with a steelpan melody that recalls Swedish pop artists like The Tough Alliance. Apparently, “Omamori” is the word for a Japanese good luck amulet and that’s exactly what the song sounds like, a hazy melodic charm perfectly designed to wash away bad vibes.
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