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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Feb 18 > THE FLASHBULB


The alias of Benn Jordan, The Flashbulb’s stellar back catalogue encompasses variants of jazz, IDM, glitch, ambient and modern classical. MusicTech quizzes this rarefied electronic artist in his new home in Georgia, USA…

Raised in West Englewood, Chicago, Benn Jordan’s first introduction to music was the acoustic guitar, which, on account of his left-handedness, he taught himself to play right-handed, strung upside-down. A Boss DR-660 Dr. Rhythm drum machine piqued his interest in electronic music in the mid 90s and Jordan debuted The Flashbulb album M (Daily Assortment Of Sound) in 2000, while pursuing retro-acid experiments under pseudonyms including Acidwolf, FlexE and Human Action Network.

17 albums later, Jordan’s The Flashbulb project remains criminally undervalued by the electronic-music fraternity. His emotive, cinematically styled music, which blends live instrumentation with cutting-edge software and hardware-based recording techniques, has earned him a niche, yet loyal following and has led to him composing for TV, film and branding agencies.

Last year, Jordan relocated from his hometown of Chicago to the considerably more isolated environment of Smyrna, Georgia. It was in these beautiful surroundings that the concept for his latest album, Piety Of Ashes, was born, with Jordan diving into his latest fetish for MIDI-synced guitars and his own software-coded creations, based on neural-network technology and physical modelling.

Benn Jordan has relocated from Chicago to the rural solitude of Georgia

MusicTech You played guitar as a kid; were you listening to that music from an early age rather than electronic?

Benn Jordan “My grandfather was into jazz and the first time I was actually inspired by something was when I saw Buddy Rich on The Muppet Show having a drum battle against Animal. I feel that was the basis of my percussion and where I learned rhythm from. The idea of programming that into a drum machine coincided with what was happening in the IDM scene during the late 90s.”

MT Can you remember your gear entry point?

BJ “As a kid, I used to go through the trash on my block to get recyclables. I told my family it was for my college fund and bought my first gear, which was a four-track recorder. The first drum machine I had was the Boss DR-660 and I still have one of those floating around. It was awesome at the time, because you could step-sequence it and go to 16th note, 32nd note and then down to a couple of hundred-per-16th note, so you’re literally going forward in hex. You’d get these weird tones out of it and if you did it enough, you’d actually burn the machine out. That’s what I like about modular, it has a life of its own – and I’m definitely finding the value in sequencing more than sound.”

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About MusicTech

In this issue, we’ve amassed the ultimate collection of professional advice on all things music; whether that's creating, recording, mixing, mastering or everything in between. Compiled from our interviews with such luminaries as John Leckie, Tony Visconti and Gary Numan, we’ve also got tips and alternative approaches from our (both pro and amateur) music-making audience. We hope this feature provides some inspiration for your creative studio endeavours. Also this issue, we chat to Catherine J Marks, a producer with some seriously impressive credits to her name and a nominee for this year’s MPG Producer Of The Year. We also spend some time with The Flashbulb, whose beautiful studio in the natural tranquility of Georgia is a thing to behold. We wrap up our A-Z series with Gear4Music, which is chock full of all the key terms and techniques that you need to know. We’ve also got our usual vast array of reviews and hands-on tutorial content, as well as an extensive guide to creating music on the move with an iPhone or iPad. We hope you enjoy the issue…