Benn Lee Jordan (born October 28, 1979) is an American modern jazz and electronic musician operating under many pseudonyms. Since 1999 his most widely distributed and electric music has been released under the name of The Flashbulb. Other popular names Benn has released as are Acidwolf, Human Action Network, and FlexE.
Jordan was born in 1979 and raised in West Englewood, Chicago by his grandparents. As an only child growing up in a derelict neighborhood, Jordan became an accomplished self-taught guitarist as a child. Due to being left-handed and not having lessons, he learned to play a right-handed guitar upside down, which he continues to do. He began his music career releasing instrumental music on small labels in the United States and Europe in 1996 under various aliases, most notably The Flashbulb. In addition to releasing music and touring, he began to work as a freelance composer for various television and film agencies.
As The Flashbulb, Jordan typically releases electronic or cinematic styled music. His style differs strongly between albums, but they all have a cohesive bond tied around intricate drum programming, jazz-influenced melodies, and a wide array of live instrumentation from various instruments Jordan has acquired. He also often records his melodies through MIDI-synced guitars. His guitar style and skill has gained attention because he typically plays it strung backwards, and makes heavy use of fast sweeping and tapping. More recent Flashbulb albums have featured violinist Greg Hirte, who is featured heavily on The Flashbulb's 2008 album, Soundtrack to a Vacant Life, as well. Soundtrack to a Vacant Life is, as Jordan stated in a 2008 interview, a step away from the breakcore genre. He also said that this step is likely to be a permanent trend in the direction of his music, a move that was supported by releases under his own name, such as Pale Blue Dot and Louisiana Mourning. However, 2012 album Hardscrabble, represents a return to the harder electronic music heard on releases like Kirlian Selections or Flexing Habitual. The record is named for an area within the Bridgeport neighborhood of Jordan's own Chicago. Alphabasic stated that the album would is an "unexpected return to Jordan's more challenging and hyper-creative endeavors."
Under other aliases, Benn Jordan's work varies quite a bit. His Acidwolf and Human Action Network aliases feature retro acid music that uses old drum machines such as the TR-808 and relies heavily on the melodies of the TB-303. Tracks made under the FlexE alias tend to be laid-back and classic acid. According to him, he showcases his more fundamental, classical, and personal pieces under his own name, Benn Jordan.
Composing for television and film:
Jordan has seen much success for himself in composing for television and film. In 2006 he composed the original score for the Josh C. Waller short "The Nail".
In 2006, Jordan's music ("Passage D" from his album Kirlian Selections) was featured in Dove's Evolution promotional campaign for its Campaign for Real Beauty website, which has drawn a large amount of attention from the mainstream media. The campaign took the commercial film winner at Cannes as well as many other prestigious awards. In addition, Jordan was nominated for a 2007 London International Award for the "Best Use Of Music" category; he went on to win the ceremony's grand prize. In 2008, he was nominated again at the London International Awards for "Best Use of Music," although he did not take the grand prize. In 2008 he was also a Webby Award nominee and took the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. In 2008, Jordan had completed work in branding, having created stings and trademark sounds for companies such as Dove, Knowledge, Verizon, and many others.
In July 2012, he released an original score entitled "The Universe", which was commissioned by Chicago's Adler Planetarium for a new interactive exhibit dedicated to the evolution of the universe. In 2013, he was commissioned again to score their show entitled "Cosmic Wonder".
Jordan currently composes for film, television, and gaming through various agencies; he also currently owns and operates his own production and recording facilities in Atlanta.
Alphabasic and music piracy:
After the collapse of Sublight Records, instead of taking on another contract, Jordan purchased his previous licenses and released his most anticipated album Soundtrack to a Vacant Life on his own record label Alphabasic Records. On the day of release, he personally uploaded copies of the album to music piracy sites including a small HTML file explaining his relaxed views on file sharing and showing listeners where they could give support if they desired. This resulted in attention by mainstream press and the album was soon to be the most downloaded album on many popular file sharing networks.
Jordan has spoken extensively on issues of net neutrality, free speech, and copyright laws in the music world. In an interview with TorrentFreak, he encourages involvement in these issues and warns against corporations like Amazon or iTunes and their ability to stem the free flow of information. File sharing, to Jordan, is a way of bypassing this potential oppression and accessing information freely. In the aforementioned interview, Jordan notes that "file trading is just a peephole to a much larger picture. Copyright, in its current state, holds information at ransom for monetary value. While in music it can stifle culture and art, with literature and education it can be nothing less than a weapon of class warfare."
Benn Jordan is the founder and president of 32 Forty, a non-profit music education center located in south Chicago. The music center also extends services to help independent recording artists with publishing and licensing. (Now closed) In 2011, Jordan released a large collection of unreleased music, titled "Old Trees (1999-2011)" with all proceeds going to Unicef. Jordan is also an ambassador for Unearthed Pictures, a foundation dedicated to publicizing and stopping the sexual exploitation of children and funding safe houses in North America, Africa, and Asia.
In 2014, Jordan left Chicago and moved his home studio to an isolated home in Smyrna, Georgia. He frequently trains and competes in mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in his spare time.