Robert Henke – Layering Buddha (Imbalance/Inertia)


FM3’s (Christiaan Virant & Zhang Jian) Buddha Machine, a simple mass-produced loop player the size of a Chinese cigarette packet, has quickly become the must have ‘art-efact’s of recent times. It’s simultaneously a comment on the scale of Chinese mass production, packaged spirituality, and a surprisingly engrossing musical device, despite its enormous limitations (9 simple short loops, playable only one at a time). It has inspired many musicians, especially those working with ambient and environmental sound, to explore its possibilities: as the marketing pitch always reminds the buyer – “it was so good, Brian Eno bought eight!”

Henke, also known as Monolake, thus releases Layering Buddha, an album made entirely of a single Buddha Machine, as the title would imply, layered over and over. Obviously, Henke being the audiophile that he is has ‘enhanced’ the rather feeble lo-fi output of the box by wiring them through his high end gear, sampling and processing the output and then reassembling it in his digital production environment. Interestingly, despite his processing and manipulation, the resulting 10 long snaking soundscapes are immediately recognisable from the tonal and textural qualities of their origins. And, like the original Buddha Machine, the output is equally as engrossing, and works wonderfully as an accompaniment to a late night or a session of deep concentration. Understanding this, Henke suggests in his liner notes that “the tracks are not closed works, but views onto a perpetual machinery”.

Background music of the highest order.


About Author

Seb Chan founded Cyclic Defrost Magazine in 1998 with Dale Harrison. He handed over the reins at the end of 2010 but still contributes the occasional article and review.

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