Up-and-coming L.A. producer Benedek's second full-length Bene's World, out on Leaving Records, proves an interesting journey through the interstitial spaces of the electronic '80s. Eschewing some of the more predictable sounds of the decade, Benedek instead pursues, to great effect, a smooth and airy mix of new age and R&B, all strongly rooted in G-Funk. It's a confidently achieved style, good for late nights in suave company.
Second track "Westin'" is a good statement of intent for Bene's World. Opening with what sounds like a straight-faced take on the sort of 'nightclub music' you might have been amused by in Leisure Suit Larry games of yore, it effectively doubles down on this seriousness as it proceeds, making a pretty compelling stylistic statement along the way that transcends pastiche — an assessment one could apply to the album as a whole.
This overall stylistic vision is perhaps the album's main selling point, but specific moments stand out as well — the seductive R&B swagger of "Tuff Luv" for instance, (which builds to a pretty sweet guitar solo), and the synth-brass improv of "Ocean Park." The latter succeeds more on the strength of its energy than precision, but its exuberance is charming nonetheless.
Although guided by a few identifiable '80s styles, there's a neat distillation running throughout the album of the incidental and peripheral — sounds and tones that fell through the cracks of those synth-y times but which subtly and inevitably made their mark. Bene's World is a deeply rooted and well-realized piece of work. (Leaving)