Release Date: Jan 18, 2019
Record label: Brassland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Arone Dyer's artificially distorted vocals vault through a sonically alien terrain, embracing a more electronic-oriented direction in lieu of the acoustic-centric art-folk that typified their earlier output. The duo's namesake self-invented Buke and Gase instruments continue to resonate with a discernible depth, indicative of a consistency in eschewing conventionalism; a successful endeavour insofar that the outfit summon soundscapes steeped in a rich non-terrestrial ether. Propelling beyond the math rock-leaning tonality of their sophomore offering, Scholars fluidly flits between subterranean gloom and cosmic scope in a fusion of melancholia and dread-tinged opulence.
Discovered by The National's Bryce Dessner and regular Shellac support band of choice (there's even been a live collaboration with bassist Bob Weston), this Brooklyn duo broke through somewhat with 2013's excellent General Dome and have taken their sweet time preparing their third full-length album. Scholar is a deeply unusual record. It refuses to go where you want, or expect, and this can confound, frustrate, even, but you're compelled to go with Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, so tantalizing do they make this path less travelled.
Buke and Gase are often billed as an experimental pop act, a tag that has more to do with their inputs than their output. More than a decade ago, Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez designed the instruments from which they take their name--a bass ukulele (Buke) and a guitar-bass hybrid (Gase). More recently, they've crafted "the Arx," a multi-instrument electronic control system that sounds awesome and sounds awesome.
If you remember Buke and Gase as that experimental duo who play the instruments they built themselves, you might want to adjust your expectations before listening to 2019's Scholars, their first full-length album after a five-year recording layoff. In their previous work, Aron Sanchez and Arone Dyer constructed their music around two instruments of their own creation, the buke, a large, six-string relative of the ukulele played by Dyer, and the Gass, a fusion of the guitar and the bass used by Sanchez. However, while both instruments are part of the mix on Scholars, this time around the duo have pared back on organic instrumentation and jumped deep into electronics.