BUKE & GASS
Album review: "Riposte"
Even in today's alt-pop scene, where being offbeat is routine, Buke & Gass qualifies as eccentric. Yet what ultimately distinguishes this New York duo is not its unusual name or unique instrumentation, but the way it makes such oddities sound natural. The twosome's debut album, "Riposte,'' is much more than a musical stunt.
Not that Buke & Gass's singular format is inconspicuous; it's right there in the group's tag: Singer Arone Dyler plays a baritone ukelele (abbreviated "buke") and Aron Sanchez wields a guitar-bass (or "gass") that he built. Add electronic effects and foot-powered percussion, and the duo makes a hearty noise. The album's quieter passages are pleasantly folky, in part because of the gentler side of Dyler's soprano. But storming numbers such as "Naked Cities" evoke the jumpy energy and jazzy tempo changes of European post-punk. They also reveal that Dyler has the lung power to rival a thumping bass drum.
Tinkering with structure as well as homemade instruments, the two alternate complex songs with fleeting fragments. They shift rhythms assuredly and venture fluently into Afropop-style vamps on "Revel in Contempt." For a group that doesn't exactly have a drummer, Buke & Gass sure can move.
--Mark Jenkins, Dec. 2010