Buke and Gase will be performing tonight, Monday Sept. 17, at Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 North 6th St., Brooklyn, 8 p.m.; $17. Their new EP, Function Falls, is out now.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Buke and Gase are probably one of the most inventive and resourceful bands making music today. They have a unique approach to making music: Arone Dyer sings and plays the buke, a baritone ukulele with six strings; while Aron Sanchez plays the gass, which is a combination of a guitar and bass. Without a drummer, both artists rely on their feet for percussion. Not surprisingly, Aron tells me, “It takes a lot of concentration.”
Back in 2010, the former Brooklyn duo released a record called Riposte, and last Tuesday, they released a new EP, Function Falls, which serves as a table-setter for the group’s upcoming full-length record due out in January of next year.
The new EP was born from a desire to create new additional music after Buke and Gase’s new album (the title of which Aron won’t reveal as of yet) was pushed back from a planned September release. “With the EP, it was much more about taking ideas that we had developed in improv,” he says, “and then just recording them right away, putting them into the computer, and then building in the computer. So it was much faster, the results are different, and we liked it.”
Leading off the EP is the quirky “Misshaping Introduction.” “That one was really fast,” Aron says of the creative process behind the song. “We sat down and started playing this groove, recorded it, put it in, and we layered a few other parts on top of it and then she sang the vocal part and that was it. It was a pretty quick track.”
Another song from Function Falls is a cover of New Order’s classic dance hit “Blue Monday,” which was specially recorded for a Radiolab episode about color.
Buke and Gase’s music making–using non-traditional instruments and the fact they have no percussionist–may seem eccentric, but Aron explains that it’s form following function. “We wanted to create some kind of visceral live that sounded really big but could be done with two people,” he says. “One of the ways to do that was to expand the instruments somehow–make the bass also to do guitar, or make the baritone ukulele have six strings and more effects and more pickups and outputs going to different amplifiers. And also we’re into experimentation, we’re into sounding unique. It kind all comes from that.”
Before starting Buke and Gase, both Aron and Arone were in a band together called Hominid. When that group split up, Aron went on to join another band, Proton Proton. Later, both he and Arone reconnected to collaborate together. “We just have an easy working relationship,” says Aron. “It can be confrontational at times, but our process works well together, we’re very productive and very particular of what we want and very detailed. I think we complement each other well that way.”
Though they both live in Hudson, N.Y. now, Aron lived between Red Hook and Cobble Hill for more than 10 years, and he had his own recording studio in Red Hook called Polyphonic Workshop. Arone lived in Bed Stuy. They came to the attention of Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National when Buke and Gase were performing at a venue in Ditmas Park—they’re now on the Dessners’ label Brassland. “They really loved it,” Aron says of that show, “and were like, ‘Are you on a label? Maybe we could help you out.’ It kind of went from there.”
Buke and Gase will be embarking on a national tour with several dates opening for Deerhoof, a band Aron said they’re both fans of. As for their upcoming album, “This time around [with the new record], we tried to reign that in a little bit and make songs try to exist within a more narrow scope, a little more grounded, so songs are not moving as crazy as they were on the other album,” Aron says. “And we got more into keeping a constant ground going.”