Buke and Gase, Naomi Alderman and Polygrains – The Lexington – March 5th 2019

I missed my Monday gig. A friend was meeting the Home Office to talk post-Brexit business and we caught up for a few drinks in Soho. I’m resisting the urge to review the drag Karaoke we ended up at.

AirBNB could have been a disaster this week. I got the dreaded ‘host has cancelled’ message just hours before I should have checked in. Fortunately, another place was available. It’s cheap and functional with a bed that has a mattress in which you can feel the coiled iron springs poke at you after every twist and turn. This creaky bed of nails offers little chance of rest.

So, I choose to stay here for the minimum of hours and source a Tuesday night gig. American duo, Buke and Gase come recommended by a great PR company and endorsed by The National. After a lengthy hiatus, they’ve just returned with new album ‘Scholars’. I have a quick gander whilst multi-tasking at work. There’s enough within to hold my interest. 

“What sort of music is that?’, shouts a punter about a third of the way into their set at the rather ace Lexington venue. 

Ha, I was thinking that whilst playing”, says Arone, one half of this male/female duo. “It’s an awfully interesting hoedown”, she kind of concludes. 

The punter isn’t alone in feeling the genre confusion; proud not to be pigeonholed, Buke and Gase play around with conventional sound, time signatures and musical practice to come up with something entirely off the spectrum. It’s prog, it’s math-rock, it’s abstact folk and obscure Electronica. It’s Tom Waits if put through a Daffy Duck filter. All told, a very complex, modern racket. 

It perhaps helps the overall artistic pursuit that little of this sound is created on traditional instruments. Indeed, Buke and Gase are the names of instruments designed by Aron and Arone. They might (or might not) have been retired now and given way to an Arx, a ‪device that allows them to trigger percussive sounds, change effects on their instruments, and control vocal harmonies all with the punch of an arcade button. Whatever, the whole effect is otherworldly and yet organic.‬

Before taking to the stage, Arone introduces us to Naomi Alderman, author of many works but here tonight to read extracts from her novel, The Power. It’s an enticing ten minute interlude. As Naomi recites a tale of graphic sexual abuse culminating in heroic justice, Arone layers a vocal swirl over the top. As tension builds in the storytelling so does Arone’s vocal flourish. Many decide to buy the book based upon this introduction. ‬

Polygrains is the support for tonight. ‬Vasilis Moschas is Polygrains. He stands, moustached and unassuming behind his array of beat-making tools. When he sings, his vocal is mostly gentle. He might be singing about very important things but it gets lost amidst the beeps. “I hope you enjoy this as much as I do“, says Vasilis. I’m not sure we do. But, this is electronica not without merit. It would go down well on Sonar’s Red Bull stage where oddness such as this is encouraged.

 

“There’s too much shit going on“, jokes Aron from Buke and Gase early in their set. And that’s a pretty fair insight into how this gig leaves your average punter feeling. I like the art that’s on offer here but might need to spend more time familiarising to truly appreciate. It’s a soundtrack to your most chaotic of dreams.

I sleep well on the well-worn mattress, the coiled springs waking me before the inevitable nightmares. 

 

Loved Ones – End Of An Error

I’ve spent a delightful Bank Holiday Monday morning scanning back through Sonic Breakfast related E-mails that I might not have paid due attention to when I first received them. Again, I’ve been blown away by just how much fine music runs under the radar. This tune, End Of An Error by Loved Ones, is one such example.

 (Click on page 2 for my further thoughts about it)

Lisbon Kid – Sunburst

It’s not that this winter has been particularly cold. We’ve had no snow and could have had many more mornings of de-icing car windscreens than we actually have. 

But, it’s my sense that it’s really dragged. More than in any previous year, I’ve found myself looking forward to the warmer and longer days of Spring and Summer with an ever-increasing sense of glee. The anticipation is doing me in. 

It’s why this new video and track, Sunburst from Lisbon Kid, is so gratefully received. Comprised of the Soho-based, Portuguese musicians, producers and TV ad composers Danny de Matos and Rui da Silva, this duo are gearing up to release their eponymously titled debut album.

  

Sunburst oozes with continental warmth. It’s easy to allow the visuals to wash over you as this instrumental mix of gentle electronica takes your mind on a relaxing holiday. 

Perhaps we’ve just partied the night away and we need a chilled tune to put on as we watch the sun rise beyond the distant mountain range? Perhaps we’re lying on a sun-lounger, eyes shut and drifting in and out of sleep as Sunburst glistens? We might be laughing and joking with old and new friends as the soundtrack for our summer plays. We might be walking home from the party as night gives way to blue-sky day.

Just as long as we’re anywhere from here, it’s all ok by me. 

Bye bye Winter.