The Flashbulb
Love As A Dark Hallway


3.5
great

Review

by Eric USER (161 Reviews)
March 16th, 2011 | 44 replies | 13,032 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What The Flashbulb loses in ambition, zealousness, and diversity, he wins back in proving he can still craft a virtuosic, focused record devoid of those elements.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

Benn Jordan, as communicated over his last three albums especially, is a bit of an eccentric, an extremist of the electronic genre as I know it. Look at his past few albums. Kirlian Selections wasn’t just diverse, it was a breathtaking medley of styles and influences. Soundtrack To A Vacant Life wasn’t merely interesting, it was enthralling, captivating; and Arboreal wasn’t simply active, it was teeming with energy. Excuse the obvious hyperbole, but The Flashbulb, Jordan’s artistic moniker, calls for it.

Through his musical schizophrenia, I feel I’ve gained a pretty clear picture of Jordan, as he toils away on composing abrasive guitars with choppy piano licks and soft auras (or whatever). Listen to his past work for me-- you can picture him hunched over equipment, instruments galore, mind racing, crafting that monumental precision of his, can’t you? Not anymore, you can’t. On Love As A Dark Hallway, it may appear that Benn Jordan has lost his edge, at first, and somehow misplaced his fervency and focus. Instead, I think his latest LP is simply a relaxing exercise for the artist that’s put his heart and soul into every second of his over-an-hour-long records, and felt more comfortable letting loose a little on Love As A Dark Hallway. The quality suffers a little, sure. But still, his virtuosic compositional skills shine through, as Jordan expands even further into jazz territory, while not forgetting to let his teams of instrumental flourishes do the talking (yelling) now and then.

Upon copying the files into my iTunes, I couldn’t help but notice the songs were tagged as “jazz,” amidst the sea of “electronic” that it was surrounded by. I can’t imagine anyone taking those tags completely seriously, but it does mark a paramount stylistic change, for Jordan. Noticeable upon the opener, jazz, which has always been an important influence in Jordan’s work, takes center stage. “Wake Up, Gladiator” conducts a pleasant, medium-paced jazzy stroll before erupting into a melodical electronic flourish. So is Love As A Dark Hallway-- soothing, reassuring. Throughout, from the timidness of the piano in “A Baptist Church In Georgia” (juxtaposed against its title, especially) to the lack of range that spans most songs, this is surely a different Flashbulb than the one that wouldn’t let a half track go by without treating listeners to a hailstorm of starts and stops, peaks and valleys.

It’s not that he’s lost his skill though, nor his propensity for creating a distinct, emotional aura. It’s simply less strong than before. And while it’s certainly less endearing and immediately awe-inspiring, Love As A Dark Hallway subtleness creates its moments of splendor in more muted ways than before. Take, for instance, the peak of the album. Yes, the peak. Because The Flashbulb no longer is dishing out crescendos like raindrops in a downpour. This is why, after Jordan lulls listeners into concentration with a few somber tracks near the end, the finale of reverb-laden, volume-driven eruption at the end of “We Are Alone In A City” is so damn satisfying.

There’s a few outliers sprinkled throughout, also. Most notably, “Let Me Walk You To Your Honda” is a spunky, wavering, wobbly track that’ll catch listeners off guard with its catchiness and, frankly, carefreeness. For a Flashbulb record, this is a somewhat new sentiment, and is somewhat conflicting with the artist I thought I knew. Still, it’s not unwelcome in breaking up what tends to become a, dare I say it, almost monotonous record. This “monotony” is relative though, in comparison with the ludicrous array of sounds and influences incorporated into his past work. So with Love As A Dark Hallway, my caricature of Jordan has changed significantly. He dabbles more freely in jazz. He picks his head up from his computer and lets loose a little. He records an LP less than 40 minutes long. So, what Benn Jordan loses in ambition, zealousness, and diversity, he wins back in proving he can still craft a virtuosic, focused record devoid of those elements.



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user ratings (70)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Kevin K (3.5)
He didn't make anything as grand as Soundtrack to a Vacant Life, and listeners should take that howe...


Comments:Add a Comment 
SeaAnemone
March 16th 2011



19729 Comments


Listen to either Arboreal or STAVL first if you haven't heard him before... there's no reason for people to dislike this (from what I can tell) but he's done better.

Digging: Towers - Bel Air Highrise Plantation

Knott-
Emeritus
March 16th 2011



10194 Comments


summary is a nightmare

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2011



30873 Comments


Tag in the 3rd para needs attending to, and your summary got circumcised

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

Knott-
Emeritus
March 16th 2011



10194 Comments


picks his head of

WashboardSuds
March 16th 2011



4984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like the jazzier approach he took on this album

and I pretty much agree with your review, which is well written. pos'd

Digging: Acid Bath - When the Kite String Pops

SeaAnemone
March 16th 2011



19729 Comments


ugh thanks guys

summaries, the bane of me

scissorlocked
March 16th 2011



3508 Comments


i pretty much agree with you Eric, although the album still needs some time to unfold


Digging: John Roberts - Ausio

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
March 17th 2011



23798 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

another album? man this guy just goes non-stop. Arboreal was tiiiiiiight, I'll probably check this out eventually.

Spare
March 17th 2011



5252 Comments


wasn't expecting new flashbulb so soon hope it isn't shitty

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

crazyblinddude
March 17th 2011



3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool review Sea. I'll pos. I figured you'd be all over this after reading your review for Arboreal.

But I enjoyed this more laid back style quite a bit. Not nearly as appealing as his last two records, but still a quality album. My rating might change after I listen to this a few more times.

HBFS
March 17th 2011



1218 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Absolutely love the trio of The Basement Guitarist, The Basement Community and Heroes On Your Lawn At Night

Digging: Jamie xx - Girl/Sleep Sound

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2011



7143 Comments


The review was bit too personal for my liking, and that iTunes bit really threw me off, but the bulk of the review does its job. The segues between points are a bit rough, though, and the impression that I get (for some reason) is that you haven't been writing in a while.

In conclusion: solid work Sea - still miles ahead of the rest of us - but this isn't your best. As for the album, I might check it out - sounds nifty enough!

Tyrael
March 17th 2011



20738 Comments


Great work Sea.

SeaAnemone
March 17th 2011



19729 Comments


thanks guys... and I doubt anyone will find this up to par with his other stuff, but it's still great, like I said

Gyromania
March 17th 2011



15200 Comments


I gave Soundtrack to a Vacant Life 5/5, but I've yet to hear both this and his last one... I should really get around to downloading these two. Also, that album cover is beautiful

scissorlocked
March 17th 2011



3508 Comments


check out Arboreal soon Gyro, It's a brilliant album

It perfectly balances all of this guys sides in my opinion

Gyromania
March 17th 2011



15200 Comments


Acquiring Arboreal right now. Seems like the general consensus here is that this is great but not as good as his last two albums, but I'm still excited to hear it.

sifFlammable
March 17th 2011



2741 Comments


been waiting for this - album art looks amazing

letsgofishing
March 17th 2011



900 Comments


I love this site for introducing me to people like this..

Arboreal was awesome shit. Listening to this tonight

Digging: Kayo Dot - Choirs of the Eye

Phideaux
March 17th 2011



1653 Comments


I like Flashbulb pretty well. Will probably check this out. Good review, Sea.



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