Budos Band II – The Budos Band
The Budos Band come from Staten Island. Which should tell you something, though I don’t know what that is. They honor the scorpion in song and cover art. Many of the players have robust beards. They make funk music — hard-hitting, soul-splashed funk with a cinematic grandeur and scope. They keep it simple, but the devil is in the details.
To put it plainly, II is a hell of a well-executed album. Stellar recording through and through. They sound huge, which they are — 11 strong. The sounds themselves are captured in analog gold warm, deep and rich. Sounds like honey.
“Chicago Falcon” opens this album with an elongated blast of trumpet and drums colliding into one another, then dissolving into a horn and guitar driven tirade of dirty. Here, we get an idea of what this band can do: blanket one's ears in gooey warm sounds that aren’t flimsy or weak, supported by a compositional sense that beckons to Africa and Harlem. The band snaps off the funk quick and strong, trapping us up in well-laid channels of organ, horns, slinky and sturdy bass lines, and percussion pecking away uncluttered in the background, adding a tactile sense to the auditory senses. Like the rest of the album, it’s a workout, but never tedious.
“Budos Rising” mounts itself a lanky groove on top of a bassline that almost sounds Arabic in origin, but quickly becomes a place for reverb-drenched horns and scratchy guitar work. This is funk more akin to the Blaxploitation-era or old songs swiped from the past by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino in one of his odes to '70s renegade cinema at its ballsiest best. At times like these, it’s hard to listen to this album and not imagine funk’s heyday in all its color, brashness, and shocking frankness depicted by creative characters scratching up against life the best way they know how.
If this album is anything, it’s well paced. “King Cobra” illustrates this well, with its slow, psychedelic crawl towards a trance-like state of horn shouts that feel like water and a snake charming vibe courtesy of guitar and organ. Slinky and mysterious, it shuffles forward without effort, moving into measure after measure seamlessly. Two trumpets and a baritone sax generate a distinct vibe throughout, although a flute enters gustily on “Adeniji”, one of the album’s most distinctly Afro-Cuban dance workouts.
“Scorpion” enters at near end with a complex array of horn charts, call-and response, and the funkiest breakdowns on the album the baritone saw lets loose, the trumpets blare, and the drums smack the taste of all the bad funk you’ve heard out for good.
II is a kung fu kick to the ears. The Budos Band have a knack for sounding bigger than life from start to finish, somehow transporting these circular funk workouts to heights only recently reached through (for example) an archival release of ’70s Kashmere Stage Band, one of the most exciting funk collections to ever come from the floodgates of the past. For II to hold its own against funk’s heyday (James Brown is not up for discussion, nor should he be he’s untouchable) is not only a testament to this band’s studio prowess and way with capturing sound, but its uncanny ability to write music that moves and sounds like funk should, while also eluding to African, psychedelic, and cinematic textures as well. Funk takes a certain amount of selflessness for the groove to truly hit, and the Budos Band get that. Everyone plays their role to better serve the whole, the result being a modern funk album as good as any released in years.