- Nicky Benedek makes old influences feel fresh. In 2013, PPU released the Los Angeles-based producer's debut LP, a gem of modern funk and boogie among the label's trove of reissues. The music touched on past eras—soul, G-funk, yacht rock, '80s R&B—without ever leaning too heavily on them. It was easygoing and musical, with slow dance beats that took it beyond obscure digger circles. These qualities are even more apparent on Benedek's second album. Arriving on the L.A. label Leaving Records, Bene's World shows the producer at his most charming and versatile.
The album's major development is a slick house swing. Compared with Benedek's earlier work, the music is more upbeat, always cruising but never in a hurry. Fat basslines and rich instrumental layers give it an effortless flow. "Ocean Park" has marbled keys and a liquid funk, with the kind of brassy climax that speaks to the soul. "Big Nite City (Sax Mix)" is a melatonin-dosed groover, its bumping shuffle bathed in melodies and pacifying chords. "Castle 2 Castle," with its glittering arps and scooting bassline, is half house, half hip-hop instrumental. Most of Bene's World never leaves this daytime party mode.
The album's non-dance tracks supply more personal touches. They hint at Benedek's life in L.A., sounds that feel crafted out of memory or place. (The record's easy coast also makes it perfect for driving.) "Westin'" and "Tuff Luv" are odes to car radio of the past—the former has the fat bounce of '90s hip-hop, the latter a tender and molten take on R&B. "Sonatine" is a new age track that evokes a rosy horizon, a glowing scene that every Angelino knows. The sense of familiarity on Bene's World stems from a West Coast mood that's influenced decades. Full of musicality and warmth, the call for easy living carries on.
01. On My Way
03. Big Nite City (Sax Mix)
04. Castle 2 Castle
05. Ocean Park feat. Just Tony
06. Tuff Luv