The Butcher Brown sound is mellow and warm and lovely – a floating feeling as background dinner-jazz is dirtied up just enough; some grit applied so that before your eyes (well, ears) you’re transported into the world of instrumental hip-hop. These are real-time, really played live loops – the sorts of sounds you’ve hunted down and marvelled over on J Dilla and Madlib productions – then you’re off to find the original sources of the samples. Here, Butcher Brown, a studio wonder-group, puts together their own version of soul-jazz and funk that will have you thinking of Headhunters and Foreplay and The Meters and George Benson’s funky combos…and on and on…
They were dynamically magical across All Purpose Music. And they had been the backing band before that for Nicholas Payton’s wonderful Numbers.
Here they’ve released an album you can only get on tape – or digital download. And it’s an instrumental set of short, lovely groove-pieces. So slight on first and second listens you could be forgiven for thinking this just falls away into nothing. And maybe you miss a vocal atop – for a great deal of GrownFolk feels like D’Angelo’s Voodoo without the D’Angelo vocals.
But stay awhile and the style starts to make more and more sense.
These are incredible players. They’re off on their own playing hip-hop and funk and lighting up stages with bigger names, but here – recording in a sanctuary, making music that is their own sanctuary – they’ve found a way to communicate and distil the joy of this type of music. It’s a lovely, loping waft. And they make it so perfect, so understated, as to feel like just anyone could do this. And yet so few could get close to making this sort of magical brew.