Jukebox Buddha . Various Artists
2006. cd . dl
15 tracks made with the FM3 BUDDHA MACHINE.
It was about three years ago whilst loafing in one of Beijing's finer foot massage joints that Christiaan Virant, the other half of Chinese duo FM3 to Zhang Jian, began to riff mutation fantasies as applied to the Buddha Machine. The Buddha Machine is a literal translation from Mandarin for the small plastic box, driven by two double 'A' batteries, that grinds out low-fi looped sutra variants across the whole of China and South East Asia. The original concept was to locate the nest, infect the breeding process with the new strain of meditative sonics developed by FM3 over the previous couple of years, lop off a hundred or so clones for promotion purposes and bounce off the impact with a few European gigs.
That idea died a death as soon as the little babies fell into the hands of Brian Eno, a rare musical expeditionary from the far West visiting China, and the notorious Alan Bishop of the Sun City Girls, who had burnt regular paths further south but had never ventured into mainland China. Only just over twelve months later the little beggar polls 88 thousand pages on Google (the number 8 is the luckiest number in China) and has a dedicated My Space page almost as amusing as the soundbox itself when only the Pope is missing from its fanbase!
On "Jukebox Buddha", the first chapter of Buddha version, disciples of many levels stretch, compress, reconfigure, rub and dust, fuck around with the nine floating loops clipped out from FM3's confrontational world of quiet. Moving straight to level four the entry from Einsturzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld finds the Beijing resident submitting to sweeter harmonies than those with which he is traditionally associated even eschewing voice in a move that could free him from the eternal cycle of rebirth. Level two devotee Wang Fan, longtime associate of FM3, builds environmentally friendly filigrees of sound whilst new initiates Sherwood and Wimbish immediately recognize the key importance of bass to the Buddha.
A true Zen moment is struck by the shameless humour of Jan Jelinek, Andrew Pekler and Hanno Leichtmann's commercial but Robert Henke (Monolake) takes a more devotional approach with a lift from his new album of droneage based entirely on loops from the Buddha Machine. Although Mapstation sound like Mapstation, in an act of submission Thomas Fehlmann bucks the beat and builds floating layers of naked vocal. The Sun City Girls prove they have visited more temples in the East than any other Westerner and sunnO))) arrive from a different dimension with a restraint not common in their work of late. In fact, the absence of self indulgence pervades many of these contributions, as with Minit whose contribution is the only one to actually sound like FM3 but none more so than Gudrun Gut's analysis of the creative process employed in producing the track she has offered here.
Steve Barker, On The Wire (BBC), Beijing July 2006
01. Wang Fan - Xuanzhuan De Tuoluonidi
02. Kammerflimmer Kollektief - Gammler, Zen + Hohe Berge
03. Aki Onda - The Buddha in New York
04. Adrian Sherwood + Doug Wimbish - Karma-Cola
05. Thomas Fehlmann - Liquid Buddha
06. Robert Henke - Layer 02
07. Blixa Bargeld - Little Yellow
08. Es - 3 Tietä Valojen Taa
09. Gudrun Gut - Rendering Buddha
10. Mapstation - Watching Paik's Video Buddha
11. Jan Jelinek/Andrew Pekler/Hanno Leichtmann - Buddha Machine Commercial
12. sunnO))) - BP//Simple
13. Alog - A Dragon Lies Listening
14. Minit - Winged Life
15. Sun City Girls - Dry Valley