The Budos Band blend funk, soul, and afro-beat and consequently reexamine the process through a psychedelic kaleidoscope. And even then, that description is too confining. While the gritty funk and soul gets down and picks you back up off the ground, the feel is also dripping with psychedelic rock on V, but through a majestic, regal, ceremonial, sonic exploration.
This is album number five, hence the title, V. The band has expanded their sound a few times, but the core function of the captivating music remains threading their entire canon. Once again on their home label of Dap-Tone, V was unleashed on April 12.
On The Budos Band’s III, the band’s funk took an omniscient bend. Following that, Burnt Offering captured audiences with a sense of DJ Muggs orchestrating beats through an empirical army, expelling sounds grand and triumphant. On V, there remains a darkness inherent in the music, robust with low tones and minor chords. That atmosphere creates tension and suspense to the funk rhythms. The Budos Band indulge in a 70s villain’s appeal. The organ, played by Mike Deller, is a seductive mistress carrying the listener on a lush leash.
Obviously these musicians submerge themselves in many influences. Never idle, members exorcise their creativity in the Venn diagram of Daptone and beyond for groups such as Antibalas, Menahan Street Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, El Michels Affair, and Lee Fields & The Expressions. V offers a more spaced-out and trippy experience.
The Budos Band are playing a little looser here, slipping into a more jam dynamic than IV, which felt more regimented (in the best way possible, again, Muggs with a military marching band). Some moments rock more, persisting forward and letting the guitar of Thomas Brenneck steer, such as the opener, “Old Engine Oil,” and “Arcane Rambler” (although here, the bass is often acting as a guitar in a metal band, pushing with its riffs). The trick to the feel is that the guitar and horns rarely meander and solo. The Budos Band is a succinct unit. Sure, there are exceptions (“Tomahawk” on III or some fuzzed-out guitar here, but mixed especially low).
The foundation is Brian Profilio on drums and Daniel Foder on bass being the source for arterial rhythms extolled by Dame Rodriguez on cowbell/clave/Ttmbourine, Rob Lombardo on bongos/congas, and John Carbonella Jr. on conga/drums. Blessed with horns powerful and poignant, the players (Andrew Greene, trumpet; Jared Tankel, baritone sax) are the décor and substance of this stacked musical entity. Vibrant and devouring, it can be velvet (with a Spanish flavor in “Veil of Shadows”) or a battering ram. “Ghost Talk” is a 3:30 minute epic and a mind-altering desert/spacewalk layered with psychedelic impulses and friendly refrains. Brilliant track.
The psychedelic sound is beefier on V, leading me to even think of stoner rock like Brant Bjork, Nebula, Truckfighters, and more (as on “The Enchanter”). Any polyrhythmic psych crate digger can resort to citing from a global community with Budos’ bevvy of bombastic expressions. The international flavor on their albums is resonates with that of a seasoned marksmen.
The Budos Band are one the best bands out there today. They bring a familiar vibe while standing defiantly unique. Bands of this nature, Cubano or Afro-Beat, are often relegated to ‘fun’ (it’s not an insult, just usually a turn-off for a hard drinking misanthrope like myself). V addresses your hips to shake but adds piercing horns, dark rhythms, and weighty riffs. Check the elastic synth on “Valley of the Damned” poking at your grey matter.
Each album from The Budos Band is spectacular, but Burnt Offering, and now V, elevate the band’s game. There is not a disappointing moment: hell, not a mundane second or generic minute. Each note punctuates a sweaty, live vibe of fluency and groove and saturated serotonin. V illuminates the band’s strong reputation while stretching out its psych rock tendencies.
RIYL: Brownout/Brown Sabbath, Orgone, Next Stop… Soweto Vol II, Ngozi Family, The Dap-Tones, DJ Muggs, Soul Surfers, Sly & The Family Stone, Adrian Younge, Apollo Brown, Emapea, RZA (especially Afro Samurai or Chamber Music), The Revelations