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The Budos Band

THE BUDOS BAND II • The Budos Band

Nestled in the heart of Brooklyn, there resides a cottage recording industry that has become the prime purveyor of soul sauce in the new millennium. Daptone Records flies the same funk flag as historic companies like Stax, Motown, and Hi, and like those labels it has a sound of its own and a house band, the Daptones. When producer Mark Ronson wanted to add some vintage funk to his mega-hit production of Amy Winehouse, he tapped the boys from Brooklyn.

Daptone also produces and releases likeminded artists such as The Budos Band. This loose aggregation of guitar, bass, organ, drums, horns, and percussion, fits right into the Daptone philosophy of keeping the fun in funk. The band's amalgamation of soul grooves, dub recording techniques, and cheesy Farfisa organ recalls the heyday of Blaxploitation and Bollywood movie soundtracks. But this band is no exercise in cheap retro irony. Instead they offer a meticulously honed package that is more like a time-warp feedback loop; to wit: did drummer Brian Profilio hone his chops listening to Hip-hop or the original Sixties and Seventies LPs of this style that it sampled? It is a moot point--the result is that Budos music simultaneously evokes both retro and modern eras.

"Chicago Falcon," which gets the party started, is one of two covers. It is by Kalkyoni and Anandji, known for their Bollywood gangster movie themes--music that in turn was greatly influenced by Shaft and its ilk. TBBII's melodies maintain this Near East tinge throughout, from the band-composed "Budos Rising" to their up-tempo, minor key re-arrangement of the other cover, "My Girl." Rather than the girl next door, this instrumental version of the Smokey Robinson chestnut (here it's "His Girl") turns the title character into a dangerous, mixed Asian/Black, uptown party queen.

Daptone label head and recording engineer Gabriel Roth understands more than the music of this bygone era, he has a deep knowledge and feeling for the sound. Part of the fun of TBBII is checking out how the drums are panned to the right speaker on "Mas O Menos," and how he gets just the right "period" reverb effect on each instrument. The fact that he also pans the bass hard left is indicative of how he refuses to be purist about it (in the LP era this would make the needle jump out of the grooves), and is just having fun.

With two CDs under their belt it will be interesting to see where the Budos Band can take this music. How far can they push such a strictly defined style while wringing out all its possibilities? Time will tell, but until then pick up The Budos Band II and enjoy the ride. • Michael Ross

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