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