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Buke and Gase + Rahrah Gabor
s/t Antonio Poscic , February 14th, 2022 09:05

Brooklyn-based innovators and instrument builders team up with New Jersey rapper with thrilling results, finds Antonio Poscic

Despite ongoing attempts at neat categorisation, the music of Brooklyn duo Buke and Gase has always been fluid and devoid of stylistic anchors to latch on to. Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez’s early work in the late 2000s bore a resemblance to the manic energy and idiosyncratic takes on rock-cum-pop nurtured by the likes of Dirty Projectors or Deerhoof. However, they seemed to end up in the vicinity of those outfits by circumstance rather than conscious effort. Aided by an array of DIY instruments – like the ‘buke’ (bass ukulele) and ‘gase’ (guitar-bass) they named themselves after – the duo’s sound kept shifting through experiments worthy of being called just that. And their last releases, 2019’s Scholars and 2021’s collab A Record Of with So Percussion, pushed them even farther off from a traceable course.

This new collaboration with rapper Rahrah Gabor throws another wrench in the wheels of anyone trying to fit Buke and Gase in a particular lane. While almost grindcore-like in their shortness, each of the six cuts on the EP is a magical portal leading to its own upside down world. And behind the doors awaits Technicolor frenzy! It doesn’t take long to get going, either, as the opening ‘Eggs N Tea’ swirls with discombobulated rock riffs locked in a dance with Dyer’s processed yet strangely alluring voice. But the music is quicksand: the underlying style and atmosphere change continuously, as if running through an apartment building, stomping from one living room to the next. In the first of them, they sound as if they caught a glimpse of The Stranglers watching a chamber pop concert on TV. In another, they channel Alpha Maid (alias Leisha Thomas) frantically searching for something lost. While a little less fucked up than Thomas’s brilliant CHUCKLE, B&G’s offbeat patchwork shares a kindred spirit with her broken, scraps-sourced post-punk mosaics.

A similar, if a bit pared down approach appears on the other two of their ‘solo’ cuts. ‘Snake Bit’ is all about tiny percussive hits of uncertain provenance going against THX-like swells of synths, while the proggy ‘Pons’ showcases Dyer’s melodic voice swimming in a current of fuzzy guitar roars. By contrast, when Rahrah Gabor joins them, B&G take on the role of producers, locking into more predictable beats and paving a background for the rapper’s provocative but light-hearted flow. “Better stay woke better step your taste up,” she quips on ‘Taste Up’, delivering the lines with a mischievous edge akin to a coy version of Peaches or CupcakKe’s transgression, while synth pads and wavy guitar phrases squeak and squelch beneath her. When she joins her, Dyer’s delivery changes too, trading some of her previous sing-song for a more start-and-stop approach.

The other collaborative cut, ‘Pass Impasse’, tampers with the playfulness in the music by confronting it with growling riffs intertwined into a dangly rhythm. Meanwhile, Dyer and Rahrah Gabor muse on pessimism, optimism, and things in-between, deconstructing the clichéd half full/half empty cup metaphor in the process and making something new out of it. Clocking at only eleven-odd minutes (including a redux version of ‘Taste Up’), this EP feels like a taste of great things to come.