My first listen to The 1000 Softcore Tourist People Club left me feeling bewildered and nostalgic in equal measure. Bewilderment came as a result of being plunged into a world so far removed from my expectations, and in fact, removed from reality itself – the world Gangpol & Mit occupy is not this one, and I had to embrace this fact before being able to comprehend how I feel about this record. Nostalgia arrived instantly, as the garish and bizarre environments of Nintendo 64 platform games sprang so vividly to mind. The mental visuals that accompany my listening experience feature the carrots with eyes from Banjo Kazooie, and the evil kremlins of Donkey Kong, and all of the blocky graphics and jittery animation that go with it.
Self-described as “digital pop”, the music of Gangpol & Mit is all MIDI flutes, casio samba beats, two-dimensional synthesizers, harpsichords and silky, breathy French vocal harmonies. On paper it seems like something I should absolutely despise, and as opening track “Welcome” initially slammed down its synthetic electro-groove, I was ignorantly prepared for the album to quickly slip into the status of tedious gimmick.
But The 1000 Softcore Tourist People Club lured me in further. The album requires listeners to immerse themselves in the world of Gangpol & Mit and tap into the logic on which the band operate. What initially sounds whacky and comedic eventually starts to sound deeply serious – as previously stated, this is the music of an alternate reality, in which all pre-conceptions of sincerity and atmosphere are completely obliterated. It’s a bit like crafting a deep and poignant visual art piece using a colorful array of Duplo blocks – The 1000 Softcore Tourist People Club carries real longevity and depth, even though it’s crafted from components we often associate with the cheap and the temporary. I wouldn’t say that I love it, but the record is a deceptively complex and compelling experience.