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Buke and Gase

bukeandgase npr

via npr.org

Buke and Gase are this week’s “ensemble” to check out. They were the first of several great personal discoveries of mine at The Big Ears Festival. I say ‘of mine’ because they’ve been around for the better part of seven years and there’s a pretty good chance you already know of them. But if you too tend to show up late for the party, it is my pleasure to introduce you to them.

I am particularly fascinated with outfits that reside in the realm of unclassifiable. ‘Indie-rock,’ ‘indie-classical,’ ‘avant-garde,’ ‘inventors of all things musical’ – it is difficult to put a label on the Brooklyn-based duo. Thus all the more reason to have a listen below.

One thing that is for sure is that these compositions are well thought out, all the way down to inventing and building the instruments on which they are performed. The Buke is an electric baritone ukelele typically played through guitar effects and the Gase (formerly Gass) is a guitar/bass hybrid. Don’t dismiss this as a gimmick. It is clear after a careful listen to discern how important the sonic qualities of these inventions are to the songs themselves. The range of the Buke gives plenty of headroom for the pristine, almost cute, vocals of Arone Dyer and the virtuosity of Aron Sanchez is mind-blowing. I think Harry Partch would approve.

The sound is plenty full as a duo and they are certainly able to stand on their own but at Big Ears they collaborated with another Brooklyn ensemble, Sō Percussion,a display of virtuosity I believe they had only done one other time prior at the Kaufman Center for the Ecstatic Music Festival. You can listen to a live recording from WQXR here.

I hope that these Brooklyn outfits were as blown away by the response in Knoxville as Knoxville was of them. Looking at their touring schedules it seems rare that these folks venture outside of New York and if they do it is to the other side of the pond. Perhaps Big Ears was enough to show them that they do indeed have an eager and hungry audience right here in the rest of the States. American music is sure to benefit if the great things happening in NYC continue to make their way to the local venues of other American communities.

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