Buke and Gase is a fascinating band. They’re a duo and well, they use weird instruments that they’ve made themselves. It’s hard to envision or figure out exactly how their tools work without seeing them in front of you, but we’ll try to break a few down right quick. The buke is a baritone-turned-ukelele-turned six string. Hunh. The gase is part bass and part guitar. K. And then they use, seemingly, just a kick-bass drum. When really, one of the most prominent instruments in this equation is Arone Dyer’s wildly versatile voice. She’s a powerhouse and her vocals easily transition between beautiful, ethereal leading lady and menacing, punk-educated banshee. And just in the way that her voice teeters between beautiful and ugly, thus is the essence of Buke and Gase; so does their music.
Their controlled chaos has yielded all kinds of goofy monikers for their genre-twisted approach to rock music: melodic discordance, metal-infused indie rock, post-proto-punk prog-folk with no-wave undertones (that’s some b*llshit from Wikipedia), all the way to chamber-punk. Maybe that’s why I like this record so much. You have to wait for the moments of rapture – they don’t present themselves immediately. But when they come they hit you over the head like a bag o’ bricks and make you bob your head and tap your foot. In the way that Animal Collective used to be a challenging listen (or Panda Bear, for that matter) in the mid-2000s, there was always that moment when everything comes together; that eureka moment of ‘That’s where the groove comes in!’ General Dome’s kind of like that.
Since my honest-to-goodness First Listen, I was intrigued. It had the sound of one of those angry-but-listenable female-fronted rock bands that I’ve always loved. Even though I’ve never loved the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O’s always had a soft spot in my heart for the way that she channels PJ Harvey in a more commercial way, and carries on the tradition of nasty rock pioneers like Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde, and capitalizes on the evolving power of riot grrrls like Sleatter-Kinney. Furthermore, in the prog-rock arena, with masters like Battles blowing minds in the past few years, we’ve had our pallettes wizened with the way that funk and punk can coexist. Not to mention the way that rock and dance have been married by bands like The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem.
So, to be sure, the combination of these instruments does a lot for the freshness and brilliance of this new record; a buke, a gase and a witchy, banshee rocker lady’s voice. But also in the way that we’ve come to be inundated with the same formula for a successful rock sound, these two challenge that and then proceed to elevate what kinds of melodies and grooves two people can create within a rock toolset. Whether they’re going for it or not, and not knowing explicity who their influences are, they call out comparisons to some of the most brilliant and refreshing artists of the last two decades (especially in the realm of punk and funk and dance-flavored rock music).
And there’s nothing more rewarding than a record that unfolds itself and presents more rewards with multiple listens. They’re on Spotify, too, so you can listen to their new one there and then buy your tickets to tomorrow night’s show at Johnny Brenda’s (it’s only $10-$12).