A lot has been made about the talented duo Buke and Gase, with a great deal of the discussion revolving around their ability to use hand-made instruments. That’s quite a gift, I assure you, but I think the biggest thing to focus on with General Dome, the group’s second full-length, is how it all comes together. In a basic sense, it’s executed pretty perfectly, leaving listeners with a crunchy bit of art-rock that sounds more like a multi-membered band than a twosome.
From the moment I first heard opening track “Houdini Crush” I was already into General Dome. There’s a ringing guitar chord just before Arone Dyer enters the picture, her voice soaring heavenly with just a bit of an off-bitch quiver. The duo uses a sense of playfulness that reminds me of a more-focused Deerhoof, or perhaps less erratic. That attitude carries over into tracks like “In the Company of Fish” where Arone and Aron play off each other before Dyer takes over the lead roll. Here the guitars sound almost like emotional jabs rather than sprawling chords, but it’s organized in such a fashion that you find yourself mesmerized.
As you arrive at the fourth, titular, track from Buke and Gase, things begin to take root. For me, this was the first track where I really was impressed by the musicianship; I thought it surely couldn’t be less than three people–such is the usage of various sounds. Dyer on this version sounds more breathy, drawing you into the edgy construction of the track. It’s similar in fashion to the following number, “Hard Times,” a tune that opens with what sounds like piano tinkering (it’s not) before plunging into the heavier side of the group’s sound. Layers are placed upon layers, and again, you’re mystified.
But, one thing that would have immensely affected General Dome would have been a number or two that changed the pace a little bit. There are moments when things seem to change up a bit, such as album closer “Metazoa” or the feeling of added tension on “Split Like a Lip, No Blood on the Beard.” They alter the formula slightly, but Buke and Gase find themselves middling about at parts…perhaps the downfall of being a duo, as two people can obviously only do so much without giving into unnecessary technology. That being said, each song on the album (aside from a few artistic intermissions) can be successful on its own.
Some albums need your involvement as a listener, while others can survive as environmental noise…General Dome is the former. For you to maximize your enjoyment with Buke and Gase, you need an attentive ear that closely follows every structural change or every added instrumental touch. If you choose to do so, you’ll be rewarded with an experience you’ll cherish from the moment you press play.