Having birthed both the Wu-Tang Clan and the largest landfill in the Northeast, Staten Island is certainly no stranger to overpowering funk. Adding now to that legacy — and falling decidedly closer to the former than the latter — is the Budos Band, an 11-piece r&b outfit that works the slow, simmering grooves of late-'60s funk with a scholar's purism and enthusiasm.
The group's first album was solid but slight, time-capsule r&b that never really went much beyond well-studied homage. II feels more accomplished because it rounds off its funky 16 corners with dead-on recreations of smoky Ethiopian jazz. At times the horn lines could be direct lifts from Ethiopiques 4: "King Cobra" is all slither and shake, bleary brass billowing up across bubbling bass; "Origin of Man," too, is a slow-burner, the horn section tripping up the scale and stopping at every sharp along the way. The whole record feels like it was recorded under streetlights: the songs are dark and dramatic, and the fact that they're instrumental only adds to their mystique. There are no soulful verses or coy choruses to take the edge off, just insistent slow-rolling grooves.
The Budos Band are one of many similarly-themed acts on the Brooklyn label Daptone, which is dedicated to preserving the legacy of ragged, Meters-style funk. By beginning to roam outside those borders, Budos Band have created for themselves an identity wholly separate from many of their colleagues. II may not be their career definer, but it's evidence that they have one in them.