BUKE & GASE at the Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), Tuesday (February 5), doors 8 pm. $11.50. RT, SS.
It's impossible to separate the music Buke & Gase make from the methods they use to make it. Even their name serves to explain how the duo create so much noise: "buke" refers to the modified six-string baritone ukulele played by vocalist Arone Dyer, and "gase" to the hybrid guitar/bass Aron Sanchez uses (originally spelled "gass," but recently changed to aid pronunciation).
"When people see us live for the first time, there's often an initial sense of confusion," says Dyer from their new home in rural New York. "If you're in the back of the venue, you hear a huge band playing but you can only see the tops of our heads. As you move forward, it becomes clear that there are only two people. Finally, when you get even closer, you realize we're doing everything in real time."
Both play elements of the beat using foot-powered percussion, and unlike many stripped-down contemporary duos, they don't augment the sound with loop pedals or laptop-based sequences. The resultant sound is as unique as their approach, encompassing everything from jagged punk edges and chiming progressive folk to off-kilter math rock riffs and acoustic no-wave.
On their just-released second album, General Dome (Brassland), they take inspiration from dance music and incorporate futuristic vocal effects while maintaining the live-off-the-floor feel that made their past recordings so visceral.
"We were exploring simplifying our process, both in how we write and the actual outcome," Dyer explains. "In the past, we'd mix a bunch of different sounds together and just try to make it fluid. This time we wanted to take one general idea per song and amplify it."
They've also simplified and refined their idiosyncratic equipment. They've made new versions of their string instruments, dumped their homemade amplifiers and constantly update their effects pedal set-up.
"One of our main limitations is the size of the gear," says Sanchez. "We never consider getting anything that won't fit in our pedal box, and we're constantly making ourselves smaller. When you're touring a lot but still carrying your stuff around, you really appreciate having less gear."