If there's anything that Buke & Gass excel at most, it's evoking the sublime with very little. The experimental indie rock duo's folk-infused and punk-inspired sound is thrashing, yet jubilant and so bulky that listeners may be duped into thinking it was conceived by more than just two people. This is in part due to their unparalleled ambidexterity and ergonomic ingenuity--all audible instruments are homemade and played simultaneously. The band derives its name from their two self-made instruments: the buke, played by singer/songwriter Arone Dyer, is a modified six-string baritone ukulele; and the gass, played by Aron Sanchez, is a hybrid bass guitar composed of scrap metals from a 1960s Volvo. Intuitively, these elements make for utterly organic and inventive music that hints at the band's hippie-like sensibility. As such, much of Buke & Gass' full-length debut, Riposte, is improvised sans loop pedals, and manifests charmingly off-kilter melodies emboldened by the juxtaposition of Dyer's delicate, modulating vocals and barbed, electrified acoustic leads. Consequently-- and perhaps unintentionally --the combination creates a false sense of atonality resembling the stylistic bearings of the Dirty Projectors.
But without a doubt, Buke & Gass carve a sonic space that is distinctly their own. Acoustics are further modified by the use of effects pedals and heavy-duty amps (also homemade) that create strikingly unique sounds, apparent in "Your Face Left Before You" which opens with screeches resembling the distorted noises of an outdated video game system. Both members take on the duties of a single drummer. Dyer occasionally uses handclaps ("Revel in Contempt") and maintains a steady foot-tap with her toe-bourine -- a miniature tambourine fastened securely to her left foot -- while Sanchez pummels a kick drum to serve as a rhythmic backbone (all while strumming away at their respective string instruments, mind you). The result is a sparse percussion backing that leaves room for the other instruments to fill in the blanks and, sometimes, lead the tunes. In "Medicina," single-string plucks and drags gradually swell into cascading harmonies over the increasingly perpetual beating of Sanchez's kick drum, which occasionally slows and halts, creating temporary pockets that fracture the song's cadence and allow acoustics to take over. The lack of varying instrumentation can be limiting, though; there's a sense of monotony among the album's 14 songs, despite its sprawling palette of arrangements and melodies. All in all, Riposte is conspicuously quirky and menacing with a dainty undercurrent, and for those open to it, there's something to be enjoyed in all of its raucous glee.