Benny Blanko

8 Ft. in the Air (Playhouse)

Remember the scene in Tron when the laser atomized Jeff Bridges and then re-created him, in digital form, inside of that old TRS-80? 8 Ft. in the Air does the same thing to old funk records. Blanko shatters the worthless Gap in-store dance track "Beautiful" and finds among the shards a striking synthetic replication of the Rick James/Morris Day catalog. Blanko's ambitions run the gamut: He liberally punctuates "12 Bits of Funk" with electro-congos and wacka-chicka guitars, then starts the next track with a slo-mo soul sample and a simple, strutting bass line.

Sadly, in the record's final quarter, when Blanko dilutes his compositions with the trappings of standard house music, 8 Ft. comes up short. It's an ignoble and unimaginative end for a record that spends most of its life span bubbling over with ideas.

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