It's hard to imagine Brooklyn experimental pop duo Buke & Gase actually attempting to do an "experimental" record but that's what they claimed the Function Falls EP was. Born from their cover of New Order's "Blue Monday", Function Falls explored the duo's songwriting process in a way rather unexpected for the band: relying mostly in part on their own creative improvisations with occasional alterations made by computer. Though it was created after they began work on the new full length, Function Falls points a bit toward what we got in General Dome.
Truth be told, General Dome is like Riposte in a lot of ways. Featuring it's fair-share of short musical interludes and mucking about lyrically in psychology. General Dome psychological themes just happen to be a lot of more insistent, more unsettled than Riposte's. Not surprising considering the sophomore record dwells in darker, less stable debts. Yet that unnerving sense of unease becomes thrilling in the able hands of the duo.
Though they tread in a similar but not congruent territory to Riposte and though they've majorly upgraded their many homemade inventions - including the Buke and Gase in which they derive their names, the real star of the new album is the vocals. On General Dome, Aron Sanchez slips slightly more into spotlight as he trades verse on "In the Company of Fish" and contributes occasional harmonies elsewhere.
But of course, Arone Dwyer's fully on display vocals are what give the songs the majority of their power. Their instruments help establish a mood, sure, but it's through Dwyer's ability to effortless glide from a whisper to a shriek that imbues General Dome with its sense of tension. Yes, even at their most cacophonous, their most rambunctious, the instruments (buke, gase, bass drums, tambourines, etc.) are all rather secondary to the pure versatility of Dwyer's voice. The lyrics might not always be clear but whether or not you can make them out, but Dwyer's vocals still manage to carry them.
So while Buke & Gase might've set out to truly experiment on the Function Falls EP, General Dome manages to remain a highly memorable, intriguingly complex thrill-ride that contains all the quirk the band is known for. The vocals are occasionally affected but the melodies strongly catching and ever clear. General Dome's similarity to Riposte ends up just being that of an incredibly fluid, cohesive album with unique, interesting narratives. The duo have obviously grown and while there are a few directly noticeable changes, there are more subtle factors at play that elevate General Dome above the sophomore slump, over just an okay album, and right onto the shelf of unbelievably incredible records right alongside its predecessor.
Hear a couple tracks from General Dome here: