The Flashbulb
Arboreal


4.5
superb

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
June 21st, 2010 | 114 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The artist that first took my electro-virginity astounds once again with 2010’s most beautiful album yet.

The disparate parts gather steam from a lull in unison, defying the smooth surrounding ambience that remains black and motionless. Each piece of the entity has its own, singular task, but is astutely concentrated on achieving the same goal. Orchestrated and efficient, a diverse array of sinewy, soft spots, tightly wound, repetitive forces, and even the more cantankerous components play their own integral role in executing the task at hand. Once started, like a machine it can’t stop. Yes, energy darts in and vanishes away without notice, crescendos rise and fall with the volatility of a summertime thunderstorm, but all the while the entity refuses to come to a halt. Seamless transitions from blazing, wrecking-ball-like moments to passive, atmospheric blanketing give life to a product with more diversity than a rainforest. A force to be reckoned with, the dynamism and multiplicity of power are equally imposing. We’ve been here before, this feels natural, the parts seem to remind you without hesitation as steam gathers and you trudge along another mile, another minute.

A lonesome late-night run and Arboreal: the similarities of the two are hard for me, personally, to ignore.

As trite as the body/music metaphor may be, it’s challenging to find one more apt for Arboreal. Benn Jordan’s latest is electronica for the active listener. Long-hailed as sit-down, concentrate, absorb-with-tender-ears kind of music, Arboreal manipulates this axiom of the genre into an album teeming with life. Entrancing listeners with a diverse array of progressive guitar riffs, ambience, ragged electronica passages, acoustic guitar, and a medley of diverse beats and instruments, The Flashbulb has always kept things interesting. Arboreal is no let-down, to say the least.

Under his moniker The Flashbulb, Jordan proves he can create sprawling and grand pieces like Kirlian Passages, or stun us all with the emotionally enveloping Soundtrack To A Vacant Life. A more focused and easily digestible effort, Arboreal flows better than Vacant Life (if that’s even possible) due to the album's fluidity and lack of restrictions in comparison to Vacant Life's more rigid guidelines. For instance, instead of presenting a desolate minimalist soundscape and asking us to feel isolation, Arboreal mixes up a cascading string movement, a little melancholy piano piece, and a choppy electronic sample simultaneously, and the outcome is more organic, perhaps, than the clear-cut emotional platitudes of Vacant Life. The transitions, once again, are holy. Jordan’s ability to create beauty from a chaotic mess of disparate elements has never been this forthright, as he weaves and bends together the many aspects of the music like an artisan. Almost identical to a body in the midst of running, with all its specialized parts working together in perfect harmony, Arboreal contorts each aspect, no matter how seemingly small, into a larger more significant purpose. Often times in The Flashbulb’s case, that goal seems to be unadulterated, stunning beauty, and Arboreal leaves this reviewer amazed at Jordan’s ability to top himself once again in this regard.

As a whole, Arboreal couldn’t be more impressive. With enough singular moments to leave a listener slack-jawed for nearly an hour, Benn Jordan meticulously places each of them into purposeful and beautiful compositions. The directness of his latest is inspiring, each moment building upon the last, each transition, note, and sample, however small or fleeting, equally significant. As rainfall spills across the record and a particularly resonant string section grace my ears, I hesitate on which piece of the puzzle is the dominant force, the one to concentrate on, before it hits me how mistaken I am. Arboreal is just as impressive as the sprawling Kirlian Selections yet just as emotive and evocative as Vacant Life, proving that The Flashbulb has a classic up his sleeve somewhere. The sole detriment to Arboreal lies in the fact that it’s sadly young and short-lived as of now, but maybe as time cuts grooves into the record it’ll prove to be the perfect piece Jordan certainly can create.



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user ratings (174)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
June 21st 2010


20322 Comments


electro-virginity


Top of '10 List, meet Arboreal.

Digging: Holy Sons - Lost Decade II

robin
Emeritus
June 21st 2010


4248 Comments


i have this. will listen to it when i feel like flashbulb, though he's usually a long slog for me. good review

Mclovin
June 21st 2010


293 Comments


SeaAnemone review, oh shiiiii-
Great review. This looks really interesting, I think I'll look into it. I've been wantin' to check out some good electronica, ya dig?

SeaAnemone
June 21st 2010


20322 Comments


Ugh I've been listening to too much good music this year. It didn't hit me at ALL when I sat down and listened like 4 times, but I've went on 3 runs with it now and there's honestly not one flaw I could find.

It really is electronica for a more active listener.

and thanks guys, I'm pretty self-concious about the quality of the review, (is the beginning silly?)

PuddlesPuddles
June 21st 2010


4772 Comments


Wasn't aware of this!

Never have been disappointed by Flashbulb, so it's probably safe to say this will make my list of top this year

xopethx
June 21st 2010


27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a truly great album. Nice review as well, sir.
The only other thing i've heard that came close (in sound and scope) is the "Life as a Mirage" self-titled debut.
But yes, for fans of melancholy ambient/electronic or Prog, this is perfection!
It mixes a lot of elements that i love about bands like Motionfield, BVDUB, and Boards of Canada-esque stuff.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

AggravatedYeti
June 21st 2010


7685 Comments


wasn't too excited for this but I'll be sure to check it out now.

SeaAnemone
June 21st 2010


20322 Comments


kinda surprised this isn't a big deal here yet. it could really use a Downer review tbh

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


31173 Comments


Tossing up between a 4 and a 4.5, its pretty damn good


Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


10433 Comments


the downer hype train

who else other than flashbulb does this sound like i've never heard? reads more slower/ambient than say cut copy

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

EVedder27
June 21st 2010


6088 Comments


Real nice review Eric, although I'm not sure how interested I am considering I don't really like electronica

SeaAnemone
June 21st 2010


20322 Comments


added some more 'recommended' rudy, I was just hesitant before because I'm so amateur at electronica (I really can't bring myself to listen to most of it), and yeah, not really anything like the poppiness of Cut Copy but at the same time not very ambient (mostly), its very diverse, hard to peg down.

but yeah, Mike, thanks, and like I said- I know how you feel towards electronica (I think) but this really is great stuff that, even being such a beginner of the genre, I can tell is good entryway stuff... idk, it wouldn't hurt to give it a try...

like I said though, if there's anything active at all you do while listening to music, I recommend that's how you try this... I felt like this was more 3.5ish when I was just sitting and listening.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


31173 Comments


Good call Seaenemy, Venetian Snares was the first artist that came to mind for me

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


10433 Comments


thanks, this gives me a bit of a better idea, ill check it out in the next couple of days. speaking of electronica i'm going to a massive festival of one this weekend, sort of pumped

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


31173 Comments


EDC?

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


10433 Comments


yeppers

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2010


31173 Comments


I hate you right now

(but you already knew this)

EVedder27
June 21st 2010


6088 Comments


Yeah, I'll probably download and listen while I'm working

ConsiderPhlebas
June 21st 2010


6157 Comments


Sweet review. This sounds awesome.

ziroth
June 21st 2010


1252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

he took my electro-virginity too. what a slut



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