BY FRED MILLS
Although the first three Budos Band albums (helpfully titled I, II and III) were generally regarded as straight-up Afro-beat and jazz-tinged funk/soul, rock elements did creep into the mix, and in recent years reviews of the instrumental group’s live shows have steadily grown more and more psychedelic. Burnt Offering is the culmination of that evolution, and it’s telling that they opted not to title it Budos Band IV; that mystic sleeve artwork, done by art teacher (and Budos drummer) Brian Profilio isn’t a coincidence, either. They said as much when announcing the record, noting how it “reflects their love of Black Sabbath and Pentagram as much as it does Fela Kuti.”
Indeed, right from the get-go the album proceeds along the aforementioned lines: “Into the Fog” and “The Sticks” both have signature heavy riffs powered by the bass guitar, and although the group’s horn section is equally busy, the tunes’ arrangements suggest a ‘70s rock band utilizing horns rather than a traditional funk ensemble tipping its hat at rock music. The title track recalls vintage Deep Purple, what with its ominous introductory chords followed by the launching of a heavy bassline, gloom-and-doom keyboards and searing/droning lead fuzz guitar all dominant over the horns. And “Magus Mountain” has an unexpected Nuggets vibe to it—speaking of psychedelic—in the way the guitar and organ suggest a garage rock tune with horns added to it. Even the songtitles tilt in this direction: “Aphasia,” “Into The Fog,” “Shattered Winds,” “Magus Mountain,” “Turn and Burn,” etc.
What will be interesting to see is whether the Budos Band’s fanbase will follow ‘em down this path because the group did make its reputation as being one of the more prominent young Afro-beat ensembles to emerge in the recent past. One imagines certain purist fans recoiling and dropping out while a host of newcomers discover ‘em. Regardless, artists fiercely need to experiment and evolve—case in point, another “non rock” group, Latin/funksters Brownout, recently recorded a tribute to Black Sabbath titled Presents Brown Sabbath that’s been earning rave notices—so it’s likely that a combo as talented as the Budos Band will remain a work in progress, unwilling to rest on laurels or sit still for very long.
Consumer note: initial copies of the LP are pressed on colored vinyl.
DOWNLOAD: “Magus Mountain,” “The Sticks,” “Tomahawk”