Buke and Gase are getting experimental. For a band whose very title stems from their nom-de-guerre instruments—buke (bass + ukulele) and gase (guitar + bass)—that’s saying something. Brooklyn DIY multi-instrumentalists Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez are gearing up for their third full-length, but being such a musical tour de force, the path to get there is more crooked than ever.
While most bands spend time writing their songs beforehand, Buke and Gase have found that to be a hindrance. Off-kilter melodies and competing rhythms don’t work that way. Instead, the Brooklyn duo have been hitting the studio for scheduled 8-hour improv marathons every day for one week of each month, tallying up for almost 40 sessions this year. These free-form sketches have become the center of their Soundcloud #MondayMissions, an unofficial follow-up to last year’s excellent General Dome LP. “Yeah, we have a weird process,” laughs Sanchez. “We have a lot of problems if one of us brings in written material. It doesn’t work. We just have to play together and improvise, which is actually really fun.”
The importance of inspired improve makes itself known in the bursts of dissonance and time signature swaps. “It’s like learning someone else’s music. It’s fresh and has less ego and it’s less contrived,” he says, noting they usually don’t remember what they came up with. “When we go back to play, we’re only learning it because we like it, not because we have a reconceived idea of what the song should be. There’s no forcing an idea onto a song.”
On their newest single, “Seam Esteem,” things sound more different than usual. That’s because Dyer and Sanchez are employing electronic sampling for the first time, triggering sounds as they go. “We’re always trying to come up with new instrumentation and new ways of playing,” he says. “Using the computer has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us, rhythmically. We’re focusing on that a lot since we’re somehow already maxed out on using our regular instruments.” As such, the samples vary from pre-written rhythms to in-the-moment zips that he can scroll through and insert to flip their direction mid-song.
Fans swarm to their Facebook and Soundcloud to interact with them each week. In turn, their input helps shape their sound. “It keeps us excited,” says Sanchez. “That was one of the main reasons for us to do it on a weekly basis – to keep some interaction going with people out there who care about what we’re doing.”
Those who stay alert during the off-season have been delighted to follow along Sanchez’s progress on his newest gase. In a little over a month, picture updates tracked a hunk of maple wood whittled down to an oblong face and neck then wired with strings and a box. He literally made something that’s never been heard before.
With a percussionist father and dancing mother, Sanchez found himself grabbing his father’s books on building. Forget the tissue box guitars and grass blade flutes. Sanchez was busy making mono-chord-stringed instruments in his father’s woodshop – at 12-years-old. “I got really into African music for a long time and started making goat skin drums. That’s when I started getting more into actual woodworking things,” he says. “Then I got into bass and realized I could start building guitars, too. The electronic stuff followed suit.”
Dyer, on the other hand, uses her bike mechanic skills for good. She modifies instruments, musical and otherwise, with ease as part of her odd job routine. Sanchez spends his free time building instruments for experimental composers. “We’re slowly, kind of, almost able to live off our band salary,” he laughs. Considering his most recent project was a dulcimer-like piece for The National’s Bryce Dessner, it’s safe to say he produces quality work.
Both Sanchez and Dyer have an eye for ingenuities. It’s what allows them to make their simultaneous parts blend together. “Most times I feel like I’m just a drummer even though I’m holding a string instrument and singing. It’s as much as a drummer does,” he says. “But Erin can do so many things at once. Man. It’s crazy.”
Even as a duo, the most difficult thing is agreeing. “If you count off the song, one of us might hear it more like a reggae and the other hears it more like 4/4,” says Sanchez. “We’re agreeing on the time signature, but the actual first beat is in a different spot for both of us. If I were to try to get on her version of what the rhythm is, it would sound like the song’s upside down.” Watching them onstage, though, it’s nearly impossible to tell, apart from the chaotic swirl their conflicting blues art rock. Now that they’re doing a short tour to test out new material, it will be even wilder than before, and leave you struggling to explain something this symphonic to friends afterwards. It’s the only type of speechless state you want to be in.
BUKE AND GASE. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM AVE., ALLSTON. 9PM/18+/$14.