Review Summary: The Flashbulb is giving away this album for free, meaning you really have no excuse if you haven’t heard this album yet. Soundtrack to a Vacant Life is essential for anyone who likes music.Hello listener…downloader…pirate…pseudo-criminal…
Benn Jordan knows how to get your attention. Both musically and professionally, Jordan (aka “The Flashbulb”) has demonstrated his deft skill at snatching our deteriorating attention spans by the balls and not releasing them until everything he wants you to hear has been said. And Mr. Jordan has a lot to say. I knew this before I discovered quite how pioneering Jordan’s attitude was towards music distribution and how pissed he was at the tyranny of industry, but that’s all kind of superfluous when it comes to the music. Take three minutes out of your day to start Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
, and you’ll know why. Three minutes is how long it takes for the infantile piano lick in “Prelude” to evolve into the blazing incarnation that propels “Kirlian Voyager.” A mammoth of a song, “Kirlian Voyager” is a two and a half minute tour de force that blends the aforementioned piano theme with swirling power chords and driving percussion to engulf the listener completely in the world of Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
. Consider your balls grabbed. Oh, and get comfortable too, because there are twenty-nine more tracks to go, and Jordan’s not letting up.
As the title so aptly suggests, Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
is an immense collection of songs meant to tackle the broad spectrum of human emotion. This means thirty-one tracks of music that include styles such as power-chord-drenched hard rock, abrasive drill-n-bass, heart-breaking piano ballads, and Spanish guitar suites (and that’s only counting the first ten tracks). This should mean cohesion hell, and yet despite the musical schizophrenia, Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
never once feels disjointed or choppy; on the contrary, in Vacant Life
, Jordan has crafted one of the year’s most fluid records. Transitions in musical styles and emotional auras are virtually seamless throughout Vacant Life
’s seventy-minute plus duration, which is quite a feat considering how drastic those transitions can be. In the blink of an eye, poppy techno can give way to melancholy piano can give way to a furious drum solo (as is the case of the “Someone”-“That Missing Week” stretch), yet there’s no feeling of strain. It’s natural. If Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
is meant as an autobiography (Jordan suffers from bi-polar disorder), then The Flashbulb deserves credit for so artfully translating his life to music. Jordan brings the listener on an emotional rollercoaster, literally orchestrating the vacant life referred to in the album’s title. Even if it’s not autobiographical, Jordan’s expertise in composing for what feels like twenty different moods is the whole reason Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
is such an important release in the first place.
Now, while The Flashbulb’s songs have enough weight to carry Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
through it’s intimidating length, it’s Jordan’s attention to detail that truly makes the album so monumental. Jordan leaves no rock unturned when making his album. No song is purposeless, nor is any textual decision arbitrary. Take Vacant Life
’s numerous piano ballads, for example. When considered separately, each one sounds more or less the same as all the others, yet this is precisely the point. The similar emotional responses they cause give the album a center, a foundation for which Jordan can always return to. For example, after the post rock euphoria of “That Final Week” and the childlike naivety of “Returning Flight Theme,” “Floating Through Time” realigns the record, serving as a reminder of where bottom is. Similarly, “Leaving Georgia” marks the album’s turning point, the proverbial coming of age moment for the record. This kind of careful construction makes Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
such a pinnacle for Jordan. He’s created a record that even after numerous listens still packs surprises, which should keep any listener coming back for more.
This brings me to my final point on Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
: its relevance. In an era of apathy and listlessness, Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
provides, well, the soundtrack to our vacant lives. One can superimpose oneself into any song off the album; find the track that speaks to him/her most in his/her current state. Feeling frustrated? Turn on “Vicious Circle.” Small? “Suspended in a Sunbeam.” Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
has something for everyone, which is its greatest strength. Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jordan is giving this album away for free, meaning that you really have no excuse if you haven’t heard this album yet. I mean, with songs for every mood that caters to every taste, what’s stopping you? Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
is essential for anyone who likes music.