By Giles Turnbull
Seeing Buke and Gass live made me re-evaluate many things. If you’ve read my review of Riposte, their debut album, you’ll recall that the Buke is a modified six-string baritone ukulele and the Gass is a hybrind, part guitar, part bass, and in addition to these creations, Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez build their own pedals and paraphernalia to produce every sound you hear in real time; no loops or samples in sight.
I’ve been impressed, many times, by people playing several instruments at once; but the sheer variety of sounds, the textures and the volume from Buke and Gass has to be seen to be believed. I thought I could imagine how it might be from their album, but the aural truth was another thing altogether. Between the eponymous instruments, the tambourines, bells, drums and electronic effects, you would, if you closed your eyes, believe you were listening to a six-piece post-rock collective; but open your eyes and there really are just two people on stage, generating all that sound from the things they’re holding, stamping and kicking.
There are moments when noise will suddenly yield, dropping into almost dream-like tranquility. There are moments when a sudden screwy tempo change will make you wonder if the Buke or the Gass has bitten its creator’s fingers. There are moments when you realize, after 30 seconds, that’s the entirety of the song, beautiful in its brevity; (there are three of these on the album).
However vigorously she’s playing, Arone also manages to sing, sometimes energetic, sometimes ethereal, occasionally agonized; as if riding the sound waves like a circus star, standing bareback on a prancing white horse. As you catch your breath at the end, as they leave the stage you’ll still be counting, to make sure there really were only two of them.
Next on stage it was a tag to indie northern English band, Field Music. Amusingly self-deprecating, at times outright apologetic, they seemed to feel subdued by the obviously high standards they set for themselves; whatever they felt was lacking, however, didn’t noticeably show. A spirited, far-from-lackluster set, with an individuality to the songwriting, combined with friendly chatter to the Atlanta crowd, reaped deserved applause and cheers.
Completing an international evening was onomatopoeically-named Danish band Efterklang, who seemed to take some of the energy and noise from Buke and Gass, some of the indie tunefulness from Field Music, and infuse it with their own originality, at times typically Scandinavian, at others crescendoing into a battlefield riddled with machine gun drumming and topped with violin and trumpet sprinkles.
After a lively fun-filled set, at some time past midnight, Efterklang closed out by road testing another high energy song, full of the characteristic snappy rhythms and exuberant sounds, before leaving with a last atmospheric swoon.