Buke And Gase – General Dome (2013)

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“Buke And Gase” is a two-person outfit as the name implies, all right, but the names pertain to the instruments they play, not the players themselves. The “Buke,” fashioned by Arone Dyer, is a six-string baritone ukulele modified to play more like a guitar, mainly by running it through effects and distortion pedals. The “Gase” is a deep sounding guitar, a sort of hybrid between a bass and guitar. Aron Sanchez molded the body of this device from the scrap metal parts of a 1960s vintage Volvo. The percussion is all handled by their feet, which explains why instead of hearing a trap kit, we get emphatic stomps from Sanchez’s kick drum and jingly percussion sounds from yet another of their inventions, Dyer’s toe-bourine. So, Sanchez is handling the low end of the sonic scale, while Dyer is responsible for all the treble-y sounds. The symmetry this creates is some exotic, garage-meets-lo-fi-techno brew.

Altogether, they make a fiercely vast noise comparable to the Black Keys and Left Lane Cruiser, but with a noise that’s completely their own. Last month, they came out with their second full-length album, General Dome, a refinement of the groundbreaking ideas introduced on 2010’s Riposte and their +/- EP from a couple of years earlier.

Dyer, by the way, is also responsible for singing as well as writing the lyrics, and is usually singing with the instruments instead of over them, treating her voice as “just” another homegrown instrument. It’s a very pliable voice capable of mingling with the buke and the gase rather harmoniously. For “Cyclopean,” she also runs her vocals through some sort of digital processor that contorts then expands her voice in much more creative ways than plain ol’ Autotune.

Dyer and Sanchez took care to put together some interesting, circular, shifting chord progressions that makes certain that this doesn’t devolve into a gimmicky act, where once the novelty of the alien sounds wear off it’s no longer interesting. For being experimental music, there are an awful lot of catchy tunes on General Dome, or perhaps, hard to shake is more descriptive. “Hiccup” (video above), “In The Company of Fish,” and “Split Like A Lip, No Blood On The Beard,” are some of the standout cuts like that. The back end of the album is exposes their punk roots and tend to go further off the abyss. Those songs are appealing instead for their even more mind-bending tendencies. The boisterous, galloping “My Best Andre Shot” is the best of these proudly nonconformist tunes.

A lot of rock acts like to claim they’re different from the rest, but Buke And Gase truly are. That claim doesn’t come from them, it’s coming from anyone who listens to their music, critics and fans alike. Better yet, they are different in all the right ways. This might not be an act destined for the mainstream, but neither was Sonic Youth, and they’ve had a pretty good career. If this is a just world, Dyer’s and Sanchez’s little big band will enjoy that kind of career, too, as long as they keep making oddly compelling records like General Dome.

General Dome went on sale January 29 by Brassland Records. Visit Buke and Gase’s website for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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