Meet electronic mastermind Benn Jordan. He’s a man of many different names, collecting pseudonyms the way a hyperactive 90s kid collected Pokemon. You may also have heard him referred to as (deeeeeep breath now) Acidwolf, CHR15TPUNCH3R, DJ ASCII, Dr. Lefty, Dysrythmia, FlexE, Human Action Network, Lucid32, rapemachine, rnd16, 66x or Q-Bit.
For the purposes of our Featured Artist celebration, however, we fixing our beady eye on Benn’s most well-known alterego: The Flashbulb.
Benn is particularly direct when it comes to the origins of Flashbulb. “In the mid-70’s,” he recounts, “Lee Jordan and Denise Richardson met while vacationing in Virginia. Many sexual instances later Denise noticed she was more nauseated than usual. 9 months later the band was formed, but did not record music for another 14 years.” In other words: it’s just him. Flashbulb is a one-man operation, and Benn is the brains and talent behind it.
And ‘talent’ could be seen as something of an understatement. Benn has a remarkable affinity for all things musical. He was left-handed and only had a right-handed guitar as a kid. Solution? He learned to play the damn thing upside down. It’s a sense of invention and anything-is-possible attitude that has since seen him release music on independent labels since 1996, and also produce music for various films and TV shows.
In terms of categorizing his sound, Benn likes to keep things ambiguous. “I pretty much do whatever I want and let other people describe it,”he says. “Right now probably 70’s era jazz (Metheny, Jaco, etc) and old library music are my main influences. It doesn’t really show itself in my work stylistically but I’m really inspired by the structure and parallel universe when it comes to attention to detail.” This universe is one that has evolved significantly over the years. “I feel like every album is a total evolution,” he reflects. “Some might argue that one jump will be inferior to the last too. My worst fear is making the same sounding album twice.” He’s therefore spread out his catalog into a variety of different aliases. Flashbulb primarily releases drill n bass and breakcore-infused beats.
It’s not just musicians who have influenced his wide-ranging sound, either. He lists “Carl Sagan, Fred Rogers, Christopher Morris, Haraki Murakami and Buddy Rich” as a telling line-up of inspirations.
Benn is very philosophical about his career trajectory to date. If he feels proud of his achievements (and rightfully so) he will mainly feel that way “for my family’s or friend’s sake. I was on the cover of a major Chicago newspaper last year and everyone was really stoked about it. For me it was just surreal though. I think my biggest joy or feelings of failure come from the actual writing process. Everything else isn’t really part of my reality anymore. I try to ignore it and just keep working.”
That trajectory has taken place over an eclectic assortment of releases to date. Infact, it’s a bibliography almost as prolific as that list of pseudonyms we dazzled you with earlier. If you want to partake in a Flashbulb listening marathon, you’d have to wrap your ears around M³ (2000), These Open Fields (2001), Girls.Suck.But.YOU.Don’t (2003), Resent and the April Sunshine Shed (2003), Red Extensions of Me (2004), Kirlian Selections (2005), Réunion (2005), Flexing Habitual (2006), Soundtrack to a Vacant Life (2008), Arboreal (2010), Love as a Dark Hallway (2011), Opus at the End of Everything (2012) and Hardscrabble (2012, Alphabasic). Oh, and you may want to throw in the EPs Fly! (2001), Drain Mode = ON (2001), Lawn Funeral (2004), Binedump (2005), That Missing Week (2007), A Raw Understanding (2010) and Terra Firma (2011).
As he continues to carve out his very own unique niche, it’s getting increasingly difficult to pinpoint Flashbulb’s contemporaries. “In terms of style I’m not really sure,” he muses. “I’ve played with Emancipator this year, and while we have a very different sound, we both had a very similar live set and following. Bartel and other label-mates of mine seem to all be in the same direction I suppose.” In terms of a dream venue he’d like to play? “Something that isn’t traditional. If I had the funding and the time, I’d like to set up an ambient showcase that is “performed” by nature. I’d make everything from wind chimes, to wind harps, to water percussion and tune them all in relation to one another. Then the gig itself would just be going on as long as someone hiked out to listen to it.”
Something tells us that Benn will pretty soon be able to have his choice of arenas anyway (he was also very complimentary about his stint performing in BAMM.tv’s SXSW showcase – “I really like the crew personally and they do great professional work. If it were possible logistically and monetarily for us all, I’d love to hang out and work with them a lot more frequently.”). Keep ‘em peeled – you’ll more than likely be hearing a lot more from Flashbulb in the future.
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