I love my Buddha Machine, the music release by Fm3 which comes as a set of sampled loops in a plastic case looking like a cheap pocket radio. This is one music work which can’t be downloaded since the physicality of the thing is as much a part of its attraction and purpose as the loops themselves. It’s probably the most playfully inventive “album” since Chöre & Soli (1983) by Die Tödliche Doris, 8 miniphone records packaged in a box with a battery-driven player like those found in old talking dolls.
I only own one Buddha Machine so I haven’t had the opportunity to try creating a choir of the things with each playing a different loop. Robert Henke’s marvellous Layering Buddha album does this with considerable sophistication, processing the sounds through his bespoke digital filters. For those without their own Buddha Machine or Henke’s technology there’s now the Buddha Machine Wall which allows you to not only play with one machine but to also play several simultaneously. This is actually a lot more fascinating than I expected, it’s essentially an ambient music machine for the web, following the Brian Eno model of creating ambient patterns by layering loops. It’s great; give it a try.
• Layering Buddha Live | Two free downloads from Robert Henke