Tension and exuberance are the key ingredients in the elegant mess of jagged riffs and irresistible melodies that constitute General Dome (Brassland), the new album from the Brooklyn duo Buke and Gase. “We like wrestling with the idea of making catchy songs that are still challenging enough to make you think,” says Arone Dyer, the female half of the outfit. But while Dyer and B&G’s other 50 percent, Aron Sanchez (no relation to the star TV chef Aarón Sanchez), might routinely get filed under indie rock, that classification doesn’t do justice to their madcap-inventor spirit, which blends hobo-steampunk tinkering with a kind of DIY minimalism. At the center of B&G’s artful racket lie Dyer’s raw vocals, teetering compellingly between coiled emotion and ebullient release. “I like to smile when I sing,” she says. “Ultimately, I want to sound empowering, like there’s an army behind me.”
Buke and Gase—formerly known as “Buke and Gass”—take their name from their oddball instruments: Dyer plays a “buke,” a jerry-rigged six-string baritone ukulele; Sanchez strums a “gase,” a guitar-bass hybrid that, at one point, included a metal casing scavenged from the body of an old Volvo. Dyer, a hobbyist bike mechanic from Minnesota, and Sanchez, a jazz-trained muso who had attended the Rhode Island School of Design, first met in 2000 in Brooklyn, through a mutual friend. But it was after their post-punk ensemble, Hominid, fell apart that the pair began to work together as a duo. “It’s more streamlined with two people,” Sanchez explains. “It’s not possible for us to relinquish that much power,” Dyer adds.
Buke and Gase’s micro-universe expanded, though, when they were discovered playing in a tiny basement venue by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of the National, who began releasing B&G’s records through their imprint, Brassland. Along the way, Dyer and Sanchez became a couple, and then broke up. “Been there, done that,” Dyer says. “There are no more you-don’t-love-me-anymore arguments.” Still, a charged chemistry permeates General Dome. “If anything, we want to be unique,” Sanchez explains. “Where the music goes is different than if I was playing a normal guitar,” says Sanchez. “Our choices come from another place.”
PHOTO: ARON SANCHEZ AND ARONE DYER IN BROOKLYN,OCTOBER 2012. ALL CLOTHING: BLK DNM. ALL ACCESSORIES: ARTISTS’ OWN. STYLING: VANESSA CHOW. HAIR: ANDRE GUNN FOR SEBASTIAN PROFESSIONAL/THE WALL GROUP. MAKEUP: YUMI MORI FOR CHANEL/FRANK REPS. SPECIAL THANKS: TEN TON STUDIO.
Check out tracks on the band’s official website.