The musical duo Buke and Gase continue to enhance their encounters with constructed chance upon the release of their latest album, General Dome. It takes thought and consideration, as well as creativity, to alter an instrument for one’s own musical pursuits– which Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez did to make their buke, a baritone ukelele, and their gase, a modified bass guitar.
Besides tinkering even more with their batch of hand-made instruments, the duo took their aesthetics a step farther, creating coded imagery to go along with their album. Their cover is similar to Kandinsky’s synesthesia paintings, but much of its inspiration comes from Sol LeWitt’s geometric wall drawings at Dia: Beacon. In one of his statements, LeWitt said that his work should “be read in a linear or narrative manner” and that “[t]he differences between the parts are the subject of the composition.” Much of the same could be said about the music and art of Buke and Gase, except the linear part. There seems to be some decoding and hacking that needs to happen, for the listener as well as the band, who still as of yet are searching for ways to achieve their desired sound.
“We create our own set of rules,” says Sanchez, “and we have no idea what they are when trying to explain it. The way we create music is very much based upon working on the limitations of our our instrumentation. It’s very organic, an undefined process.”
The band sure gets a heavy sound from their setup, and it’ll be even more forceful now that Dyer switched up her buke yet once again. “The wooden toy that formerly occupied Arone’s hands” was replaced by a new “battle axe”; Dyer’s friend salvaged the steel from the front of an MG Midget, a small two seater sports car. You could say it gives Buke and Gase a driving sound..apologies for the pun, but there is plenty of movement present in their songs, and that’s definitely due to a series of changes in their lives.
One of those changes being a move from Brooklyn to Hudson, New York to work on recording, a switch that gave Dyer the push to trade in her pedal bike for a motorcycle. They also got a new practice space, a cavernous room right by a noisy and regularly used train track. The train went by at least two or three times a day, and initially, Dyer and Sanchez were set aback. It sounded like the train was right in the room, with it’s frequent stops, whistles and horns. But they didn’t let this derail them. “We basically embraced it, though it wasn’t necessarily intentional,” says Sanchez. “There was just no way we could avoid it while recording.” The sounds are pretty subtle and come across as background noises in the mix. “You can hear it with nice headphones,” says Sanchez.
That shouldn’t be the listener’s focus though. There’s so much impressive motion in their compositions, their verses taking unpredictable twists and turns. A dizzying cyclone of a video for their song “Hiccup” features their topsy-turvy riffs and their love for dissonance and distortion. And when using free association to come up with song titles, Dyer often thought that the art of contortion really fit their music. The album has a track called “Contortion in Training,” and pays tribute to the famed escape artist with “Houdini Crush,” but Dyer didn’t really have a fascination for contortionists. It was more of an appreciation that people took time to practice and craft this technique of bending and flexing the human body in all sorts of ways.
During “Contortion in Training” Dyer sings “bending back….bending just to see…everything could be right side up for once.” Perhaps Buke and Gase’s natural affinity for creating codes, reconstructing instruments, and writing disorted riffs is just their way of trying to complete their own personal jigsaw puzzle. Even if the pieces are still scrambled, it’s engaging just to watch Dyer and Sanchez pick apart the pieces, only to arrange them in their own manner.
Buke & Gase play DC9 on Saturday, February 2nd.