If you’re a believer in pure coincidences, you may not believe in pre-destiny; the thought of which would bring up the question of an ordered universe. The fact is, from a statistical perspective, coincidences are less remarkable than they seem. For instance, the new computer smart-searches are making “randomness” more obsolete, so when I was sent the new Buke and Gase album to review, I realized there must be some statistical anomaly at work —I had just listened to an old episode of Radiolab from 2010 (a podcast I’ve been obsessed with recently) which featured the band. I was only mildly curious about the band when I had heard the episode on its own, but after listening to General Dome. I’m glad the statistical universe brought them into my world.
The band is a duo, which in itself is not an oddity, but what is unique is the large sound that comes out of them, especially because you are generally hearing more than just two distinct sounds. This isn’t a trick of engineering; most songs can be recreated live, as they have modified their instruments which include a buke (bass/ukulele hybrid) and a gase (guitar/bass hybrid). Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez also sometimes play multiple instruments at the same. (Arone and Aron, coincidence?) All of this was featured on the podcast so I knew what to listen for beforehand. There had been comparisons to their sound to that of King Crimson, but most modern listeners will likely find the sound to have more in common with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs; not really so much in the song structure, as these songs do lean more progressive than poppy, but in Arone’s voice and the band’s minimal style that seems to channel the Yeahs. That’s a good thing in my books. In the past, I had never been totally sold on a female soprano-type singer in a band that sounded gritty and raw, but I’ve now grown accustomed to it, and welcome it more.
This album comes out blazing with “Houdini Crash” which builds from the first strumming chords of the gase. The song is driven from the chords of that guitar/bass along with simple staccato drum hits to vary the rhythm and sound. This continues into “Hiccup” in which you then clearly hear two different rhythms coming from a stringed instrument, which fits the image of a hiccup well. This pattern continues throughout the album, with some clever riffs accompanied by varied beats; progressive, but also quite melodic. Just how they would replicate this onstage is still a bit fuzzy for me, but there will be opportunity as they will be embarking on a North America-wide tour fairly soon.
You can tell that there is something interesting happening musically between these two as you venture through the rest of the album. During the Radiolab podcast, I learned that they used to date when they were in another band —the band broke up and so did they. Buke and Gase is the newest incarnation that comes out of a unique relationship, altering sounds to create new ones. Do they sound like other sounds? Statistics will show that everything that has happened will happen again, coincidence be damned.