Jesse Jarnow

suggested uses for the buddha machine 2.0 (greatest misses #13)

Lost in the post-holiday malaise…

Suggested Uses for the Buddha Machine 2.0
by Jesse Jarnow

FM3’s Buddha Machine 2.0, an ugly plastic box that emits nine different ambient loops and which looks like a transistor radio, was practically designed for urban life. Inspired by the drone boxes at Buddhist temples in Asia, it is a chilled escape from Twittered-out internet devices, mp3 players, stray noise (cultural or literal), and even well-meaning friends.

The new edition of Christian Virant and Zhang Jian’s Buddha Machine (first issued in 2005) is the post-holiday balm to end all balms. Because now it has pitch control. Armed with a headphone jack, a small tinny speaker, nine new loops, and a nearly infinite life from two AA batteries, the Buddha Machine–$23 + shipping from Forced Exposure–and its flexibility might be your new bff. (That or the $3.99 iPhone version, modeled on the original, which is also pretty rad, albeit too quiet.)
Suggested uses:

1. Put on before sleep. Place on pillow next to head.
2. Turn on in pocket while out and about, surruptiously adjusting as needed.
2a. With friends, keep volume low, free of detection. They will wonder why you are glowing.
2b. On subway, keep volume louder. The Buddha Machine is an interesting gauge of ambient noise.
3. For street use, try headphones. Though each track is a short loop, extended close listening creates illusions of developing pieces of music, replete with movements and sections.
3a. The Buddha Machine occasionally picks up interference from passing cell phones, like speakers at a club. But it also sometimes adds layers of localized static, like sonic dirt, which is kinda cool.
4. In noisy environment, such as a bar or party, crank Buddha Machine, press closely to ear, close eyes. Listen to the ocean in the seashell.
5. Different loops for different occasions. Each is named (“Mao,” “Li,” etc.), but better remembered by one’s own mnemonic: the piano-bells, the downtempo one, the ice fields, etc..
6. Add new layer to whatever music is playing. Use pitch control to match key.
7. Go to LaMonte Young’s Dream House. Upon exit, use pitch control to match drone, carry vibe home with you.
8. Float downstream. It is not dying, dude.


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