After two well-received full-lengths and an EP, Staten Island's Budos Band return with III in 2010. The group's first two recordings walked a loose tightrope line between the modern jazzed-up Afro-beat sound of Antibalas and the soulful good-time funk groove of Sugarman 3. It's also true that while they fit the Daptone label's groove-centric aesthetic, III reveals a new direction, offering the view that they are also something other. This 11-song set, recorded in 48 hours, offers a darker, more spacious tinge. Elements of psychedelic, Middle Eastern, and even Latin sounds have entered their mix, without sacrificing their dance party cachet. The opening "Rite of the Ancients," "Black Venom," "Unbroken, Unshaven," and "Mark of the Unnamed" all feel like they could have been instrumental interludes in a '70s blaxploitation flick, but are fully developed harmonic ideas instead of simple vamps. The horn chart on the latter track is a monster, with popping three-way dialogue between baritone saxophonist Jared Tankel, Farfisa organist Mike Deller, and all four percussionists. Also noteworthy is guitarist Thomas Brenneck's reverbed surf sound that introduces the darkly compelling "Nature's Wrath." The horns - Tankel and two trumpets (tenor man Cochemea Gastelum is absent this time out) - punch up a minor-key vibe that unwinds around a tense film noir chart and a mariachi melody. Then it gets decorated by Daisy Sugarman's ghostly flute, as the percussionists play around all dimensions of kit man Brian Profilio's breaks; it creates a more spaced-out set of atmospherics without losing the groove - Deller's organ enters in the final moments as icing on the cake. Other tunes with a more sinister, moodier vibe include "Golden Dunes" and "Budos Dirge," but they too give off plenty of heat and crackling energy. There's a Malian tinge in the Budos' Afro-soul on "Raja Haje," led by Brenneck's guitar. The closer, "Reppirt Yad," is the Beatles' "Day Tripper" given inside-out, upside-down funky treatment in a slower tempo with out atmospherics. "River Serpentine" and "Crimson Skies" are breezier in comparison to the rest and more traditionally Budos, with plenty of butt-shaking WHOMP. This third chapter in the Budos Band's legacy is a giant step forward. That said, for band and listener alike, nothing is lost in this gambit; everything just gets deeper and wider and the payoff is nearly immeasurable.
All Music Guide