It’s easy to encounter adjectives like “innovative”, “original”, or “inventive” when talking about bands who toe the proverbial fringes of contemporary music – their sound inhabits a kind of liminal no-man’s land, and resists any attempt to pin it down to a specific genre or variety. So it is with Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, the pioneers of the NYC-based duo called Buke and Gase. What is a buke and gase? Highlighting a MacGyver-esque resourcefulness, the couple have not only constructed their own instruments (the buke is a six-string ukulele hybrid, while the gase marries the lyricism of a guitar with the distorted thunder of a bass), but deserve some credit for generating a style that is chaotically listenable.
You can feel the influences of noise and proto-punk stomping through their tracks with heavy black soles. It might as well be hammering in fence-posts and stringing electric wire through them – all of this in preparation for what they intend to corral inside. Arone’s voice has the capricious vigour of a foal learning to run and jump for the first time – it’s spastic, sometimes awkward, clumsy in a deliberate way, and ever juiced on the experience of exploring its potential. Maybe I’m flogging the metaphor a bit, but there’s a vitality in Buke and Gase’s second LP General Dome requiring that stretch.
One of the major obstacles for any group coming out of a tradition of punk is the tendency for its bullet-point choruses to stray into monotony. The harder the drop of the bass, the deeper the rut it drives in the ground and the more likely your tires will lock in it. Tracks like “Contortion In Training” steer away from the homogenizing effects of that heavy drill-bit punk-sound by handing the reins off to the lyricism of Arone’s vocals – a lot of their new songs are plugged into a fisheye lens, and give us a paranormal panorama of what the indie-rock-punk scene has sharpened itself into. They utilize dissonance across the board, and at times you could be listening to a ’60s era psychological thriller – complete with chiaroscuro hallways, eccentric protagonists making their debut mid-second act, and a creepy carnival setting. It works, again, because somewhere in between the lines they’ve found a channel of rhythm and ride it out.
In an industry that recycles itself out of a perpetual compost heap, it’s refreshing to encounter something that’s not afraid to experiment – whether it appeals at first or not is beside the point, because it’s the creative ambition that determines the longevity of a band. And when we talk about a group with the imagination and wit to invent something like a “toe-bourine”, there’s a good chance their survivalist-style of music will have no trouble outlasting the zombie apocalypse.
Stream some of their tracks from General Dome here, including a few from their previous albums Riposte and +/-.