Buke and Gase – Function Falls EP

November 4, 2012 No comments
Written by Dustin Cordeiro

★★★★☆

From the sound of Function Falls, the new EP by Brooklyn-based band Buke and Gase, you’d probably have no idea that they’re a two-piece. With stomping percussion and loud “buke” (bass + ukulele) riffs, their songs sound meaty enough to be backed up by at least a quartet. And the fact that all that ruckus is made by two people stamping their feet and strumming away on homemade instruments (which they call “Frankensteinian”) makes their beautiful noise all the more impressive.

But what’s more impressive about this EP is that most of the songs were completely improvised. As an “experiment in writing processes,” Buke and Gase set out to write a song per day for a week, and ended up falling a bit short, but still came out with three solid original songs. The first of which, “Misshaping Introduction,” is an eerily tense track with dark guitar tones and ghostly vocals. The band describe the song as a gourmet “dessert dish” you’d probably get at a fancy restaurant, but it feels much more subversive than this – like an entrée item that you can’t even pronounce, much less understand, but for some reason it’s the only thing on the menu that you’re drawn to.

“Tending the Talk” is a “to the note” recreation of an improvisation, which is surprising because it comes off as perhaps the most structured song on the EP and has the closest thing we get to a hook, with the line “This heart is not too hard to guarantee.” The razor-sharp harmonics draw you into the track until lead singer Arone Dyer’s voice cuts in and guides us through the layers of noise and catharsis.

The empirical point of Function Falls is saved for last with their cover of New Order’s new-wave classic, “Blue Monday,” which inspired the songwriting process they used for the rest of the EP. The original song’s iconic bassline is reimagined on the “gase” (guitar + bass) and becomes the perfect breeding ground for Buke and Gase’s experimental nature as they paint their instruments with effect pedals until they shine like synths.

I don’t know many other bands that can make a collection of improvised songs sound so well-crafted while still retaining the raw expressiveness that comes with creating music on the spot. Function Falls works not only as a short collection of highly accessible songs, but as a testament to Buke and Gase’s creative process, asserting their command over structure and fluidity and proving that the two don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.

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Buke and Gase will release a full-length album, General Dome, on January 29, 2013 on Brassland.

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