Buke and Gase – Scholars

While there are some decent enough ideas to be enjoyed on Buke and Gase's latest studio album, it's ultimately a rather flat listen that doesn't challenge anywhere near enough as it should

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 17 Jan 2019
  • Buke and Gase – Scholars
Album title: Scholars
Artist: Buke and Gase
Label: Brassland
Release date: 18 Jan

Brooklyn's Buke and Gase amassed quite the list of fans during their original run of 2008-2013, with fellow Brooklynites The National even having them guest on their last album Sleep Well Beast, but have been rather silent in the last five years. So much so that their return has made their name – referencing their "buke" (baritone ukulele) and "gase" (guitar-bass) instruments – rather redundant as they now approach their music with a far more electronic, sample-based structure. Allegedly Scholars, their third record, was considered as a name change given their new style, which has similarities to The National's aforementioned last album.

However, like that record, the biggest problem is often an over-reliance on using the same beats and samples repeatedly, to the point where the overall effect becomes nulled as the record progresses. Scholars starts interestingly enough, with a doom metal-esque drone guitar opening Stumbler, and there are some pleasing moments here and there in clear pop song Grips, but there isn't really enough here to keep an entire album's worth of attention. 

Somewhat worryingly, the band allegedly whittled down some 60+ tracks and hours worth of music to these 12 which sit under 40 minutes, begging the question, how far down the garden path can one be led? While there are certainly some decent enough ideas to be enjoyed here, this is ultimately a rather flat listen that doesn't challenge anywhere near enough as it appears to intend to; a real wasted opportunity.

Listen to: Stumbler, Scholars, Grips