Buddha Machines!

Yesterday I got new Buddha Machines and new Buddha Machine-related albums.


The Buddha Machine was something introduced to me about three years ago now.

Originally I saw it in a friend’s bedsit, sitting on a shelf looking like a cheap plastic radio. He noticed I was looking at it, and explained the entire concept of the Buddha Machine to me.

The Buddha Machine is a simple noisemaker. Programmed inside of its guts are six or more (or less) musical loops. He told me people have linked them up and mashed together to make songs and so on. These things are a product of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian who based their ‘Machines on similar devices, popular throughout China, which contain Buddhist chants.

When I first picked these up, I had also just begun a new job working in a data centre. So sometimes, I would take one into the massive (and loud) server room, turn it one with some headphones, then chill out while taking tapes out of a library. At one point, I had listened to one loop, a single, simple loop that ran for no more than twelve seconds, for about two hours.

Late last year, a new version of the Buddha Machine was released and the moment I had read about it, I was already clicking through the Forced Exposure website to purchase the two of the new Buddha Machines, a Gristlism box and two albums of Buddha Machine music, one by Robert Henke and another by Christiaan Virant.

The new Buddha Machines have eight new loops of varying length, and tone, which will be fun to play around with once I hook them up to the Memory Man pedal and begin layering the various loops from the other machines. At first listen through, most of the loops now sound more like from a piano than from another stringed instrument, though I could be wrong. And like the other Buddha Machine loops have this hypnotic effect. There’s this strange loop effect, where each one sounds a little different from the previous one.

Robert Henke – Layering Buddha
Ambient, with mild dark distortions, Layering Buddha is a music of empty cities and abandoned places. There is a sense of peace, but also decay, as the buildings crumble, giving way to nature’s return.

But mostly you can just chill out to it I suppose. You do not necessarily have to imagine wandering through Battleship Island (look it up) with this as the soundtrack. Though it might help.

Christiaan Virant – Fistful of Buddha
A weird album, reminds me of old point-n-click video games, less dark than Layering Buddha, but with that sense of attempting to check out every damn pixel of a screen in case you missed a clue or another item to add to the inventory or random objects.

Actually it has a similar sound to the Machinarium soundtrack, hence why I think of a video game. So its finally good to hear music from the one of the creators of the Machine.

So if you’re interested in getting these you can grab them from Forced Exposure.

Anyway, I’m going to dust off the guitar pedal this weekend and play around with the new machines.

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