The album cover for the Budos Band’s 2005 self-titled debut features an active volcano gushing out lava as it spills downhill. At the time of its release, the group was fresh to the scene with a modern take on soul and Fela Kuti–inspired rhythm that sizzled to the touch. Fast-forward to their most recent gift to the fusion funk gods, 2014’s Burnt Offering, and the sounds you hear recall a smoldering wind of change after nearly a decade’s worth of tight, Afro-soul instrumentals. At their core, the nine-piece outfit is still the good-cheer-producing ensemble that can inspire the crabbiest of curmudgeons to tap a foot along to their infectious brass beat. It’s just that now, Daptone Records’ Staten Island ambassadors have broadened their reach into darker-sounding territory, and they’ve done so while flexing the hell out of a fuzz pedal.
Beyond the musical downshift into a mistier domain, Burnt Offering is the Budos’ first record without any outside help, a detour from their previous efforts, which had Daptone mastermind Gabriel Roth at the helm of production.
“I think the fact that we really only had our hands on it from start to finish, we were able to make it sound a little bit closer to what we were envisioning in our minds,” says bandleader and baritone sax player Jared Tankel. “And that’s not to take away from what Budos III ended up sounding like; Gabe Roth, who produced and engineered it, did incredible work. The first three albums he produced and engineered all sort of stand as a good initial trilogy of the Budos Band. They all have a unified sound in a lot of ways. So for us to really make this larger step away from that, we needed to do it ourselves and make sure that everything was exactly how we wanted it.”
A four-year gap sits between 2010’s The Budos Band III and Offering. This has been the longest break between records they’ve confronted to date, but it has allowed the group to become cozier with these songs and material, something that Tankel notes was of great benefit.
“Some of these songs we’ve been playing live for a couple of years now; we’re comfortable with them,” he says. “We were really excited about this album in part because we felt like it reflected our live show, more so than albums in the past.”
To say experimentation was a factor in making this record would be an understatement. In the studio they messed around with a Binson Echorec (a classic echo machine that defined early Pink Floyd records) and out of its loops came the record’s spacey undertone. Budos even went as far as rearranging its musicians during the recording of the album’s final track, “Turn and Burn,” to add more ingenuity to the record’s conception.
“Our bass player [Dan Foder] ended up playing a lot of guitar on that one because our keyboard player [Mike Deller] was actually not in the session of that song,” Tankel recalls of “Turn and Burn” ’s recording session. “Our guitar player Tom [Brenneck], who produced the record, was playing keyboard, but in order to get into the right state of mind to play the keys on that one, he got incredibly stoned. Therefore, it was better to have our bass player play guitar, because Tom would not move from behind the keyboard. I don’t know how that’s best reflected in print, but I guess it’s kind of cool because people are shifting around on their instruments and playing different stuff on that one, and I think that song is our most psyched-out jam track on the album.”
If Burnt Offering is the Budos’ stout or porter record, then their previous three were a flight of crisp East Coast IPAs. When catching them live, help yourself to a round or two of whichever you prefer and listen as they summon you to the floor.
The Budos Band will play two back-to-back nights at Brooklyn Bowl March 27 and March 28. For ticket information, click here.