I’ve been quite mean to Buke & Gase in the past, loudly demanding that they should “try harder” in the wake of their last album, Riposte, one of the best of that year.
I doubt that they heard me – or heard of me – but, regardless, they’ve acted. Riposte was so frustratingly close to true brilliance. It embarrassed most other efforts, sure, but there wasn’t the diversity of songwriting that I was looking for. Taken individually, songs were near flawless, but just blended together on the album.
Function Falls isn’t even the new album: it’s a satellite EP slung together in their spare time after the album was complete. The band aimed to create a song per day in one week, and wrote only three songs – but liked them so much they put them out (along with a cover of Blue Monday for Radiolab) as a standalone release. It’s a mixture of improvisation and meticulous digital crafting. The band even make their own instruments – a “buke” is a modified baritone ukelele and a “gase” is a guitar-bass hybrid (they were previously “Buke & Gass”).
Arone’s vocals still remind me a lot of a cross between Kristin Hersh and Tanya Donnelly, and they’re more confident than ever. A pleasure to hear. You can hear them best on Tending the Talk, which was pure improvisation. Like the other textbook improv class, Carter Tutti Void, this is all about textures and layers and structure, and there’s not a note out of place.
Hell, even the cover of Blue Monday imbues it with a vibrancy and urgency that it just didn’t have before. It scampers off into strange places leaving you wondering if you just heard what you thought you did.
You know when you’re watching a film and you can pinpoint the split second when the Oscar was theirs? The moment when, before the vote was cast, the contestant had won the talent show? Function Falls is the moment that Buke & Gase became what they were meant to be.