The French have a knack for always doing things just a little bit differently. They even have a term for it that the English language likes to hijack every once in a while– you know, that certain Je ne sais quoi or I dont know what. Well, “I dont know what” can certainly be applied to Gangpol & Mits album The 1000 Softcore Tourist People Club, and I mean that in the best way possible. The French duo has released a frantic, crazy hybrid of synthetic pop and electronic music that is sure to cause audio confusion in your ears. Borrowing from a cartoon world that features narrative asides from graphic novels and sly humor that any Sparks fans might appreciate, their sonic creation is as adventurous as the musical styles they digitalize, such as cumbia, funk, and disco.
The album opens with Welcome. With its frog croaks and bird songs, followed by blips and hip-hop synthetic beats, the song really should be called “Welcome to the Electronic Jungle. Its a good primer for the digital pop world to come.
The majority of the songs are purely instrumental, but there are some that have witty lyricisms sprinkled throughout. The 1000 People Band features some vocals and schizo, rapid-fire shots that border on circus music (for the insane). The Softcore Tourist has an electronic cumbian beat with breathy vocals (in English, not French), makes you want to swing your hips, while The Softcore People Club calls for you to lick your toes? Whatever, its catchy and somehow decidedly French sounding.
The Enemy I Never Met and Browse at Night are slower, moodier songs that take the frantic pace down a few notches and let listeners catch their breath. The same goes for Otsuki Song – like the name suggests, it sounds like it is sung by a Japanese child. But it’s not your average nursery rhyme (unless your kid is on acid).
Upping the random factor is From Your House to the Universe, which starts off innocently enough before it morphs into like a FantÃ´mas-like brawl of audio artillery. Snippets of fuzz, noise, blips, screams, and vocal scatting destroys any notion of this being purely a synth pop album. If thats not your cup of tea though, the album ends with The 1000 People Band (part 3)”, a video game orchestra which makes it endearingly quirky rather than kitschy or absurd.
The album isnt perfect though, and its a tough genre to win people over with. You’ll notice a lot of the songs all sound the same and are all very similarly named, which can get confusing. The songs that stand out the most and work best are the ones with the vocals from the duo. Their presence among the digital sounds and electronic arrangements really goes a long way to humanize what you are listening to and, in part, bring you closer into their zany world.
The 1000 Softcore Tourist People Club will appeal to those who like their electronic music on the weird, unpredictable side. Gangpol & Mit aren’t about getting you on your feet dancing but they are about taking you on a journey through quirky and humorous synthetics with a European edge. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if it ends up being the background music for the madcap Saturday Night Live Les Jeunes de Paris skit sometime soon.