The Budos Band Burnt Offering

[Daptone; 2014]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: instrumental, funk, soul, afro-beat
Others: Antibalas, The Dap Kings, Egypt 80, The J.B.s, Mulatu Astatke

Don’t let that album cover and title fool you. The level of departure here is so slight that the boys could’ve gone ahead and just slapped a roman numeral four on there. The Budos Band’s approach to instrumental funk/soul has always had a touch of the ominous. They reclaim the original grandeur of Beethoven’s Fifth while fitting into the fun and frivolity of how the symphony has been fetishized over time. It’s music for dancing, to be sure, but it contains a mood that sort of hovers over the revelry. It’s looking down on itself from a great height. It isn’t imbued with judgement, necessarily, but a grave sort of knowingness. It feels good in the crowd, bathed in darkness and strange lights. But something is moving us, and we are a little bit scared of the possession. Most dance music uses this feeling as a segue to release. Budos Band just lays in the pocket and glowers with a fierce but composed solemnity.

All grasping pseudo-profundity aside, we’re talking more tasteful deep-funk liberally laden with monster-mashable, Éthiopiques-style keyboard drone. Burnt Offering lets things simmer a bit more here and there, but the record is pretty much business as usual. Despite prominent distorted rock guitar and snatches of discordance, this music is too classy for the b-movie scores that apparently inspired it. When I try to pair what I’m hearing with Argento or Romero films, it feels oddly ill-fitting. Yet the Budos sound is somehow very theme-oriented. It’s just that its foreboding swagger is too potent to take a backseat to a larger presentation. Perhaps their music is the theme to devil-may-care grace itself. That walk and lean and gesture to a world standing still in fearful anticipation.

The momentum of these songs is fearsome, their get-in, get-out run times elegantly restrained. Burnt Offering may not be a groundbreaker, and (as with previous outings) can begin to feel a tad rote if you’re not in the right mood. But this record is nowhere near the neighborhood of inessential. This is your Halloween party record, without a doubt, but really any party with Daptone artists blasting from the speakers is well on its way. So come for the gimmicks if you so choose, but you’ll be staying for the empowering, molten slab-rocking, stentorian fury these guys unfailingly bring time and again. Be sure and move somethin’ while you’re there.

Links: The Budos Band - Daptone

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