This isn’t news on the order of a multi-touch iPod, a less brick-like Zune, or a post-DRM Sony MP3 player — but the Buddha Machine has apparently experienced an upgrade.
This milestone in the product life cycle of the sound-art gadget designed by the China-based duo FM3 may have occurred a year ago or more, but I only just became aware of the change.
A friend had me over for dinner recently and I noticed that his Buddha Machine has a different button than do the pair that I own. The difference between the two generations involves the button that skips through the machine’s nine lo-fi loops. (More info on the device at fm3buddhamachine.com
On mine (pictured above, in green), the button is a little black nubbin that you switch back and forth; there’s a helpful white arrow pointing in each direction. On the new generation (above, pink), the black nubbin has been replaced by an inset button the same color as the rest of the device.
The sound loops haven’t changed, nor has the economically tinny sound quality. Not exactly an upgrade on the order of Apple’s iterative marketing strategy — but perhaps a Buddha Machine Nano is down the road…
PS: I should have mentioned that an actual formidable upgrade, with new sounds, is due to be presented at South by Southwest this year (fm3buddhamachine.com).
Some of the most widely publicized news from this past week’s Game Developers Conference (gdconf.com), held in San Francisco at the Moscone Center from February 18 – 22, centered on a sixth-sense device, from Emotiv (emotiv.com), that uses brain waves to trigger game play. Still, the original five senses were in full effect, sound key among them. (And, well, not so much smell, aside from the concerns about personal hygiene endemic to the gaming world.)
I only had one afternoon at the event, and was humored by how many guitar-input devices were in evidence, no doubt as a result of the popularity of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. The prevalence of faux-guitars began to feel like one of those post-Oscar fashion rundowns, when some tabloid displays how a half dozen starlets all wore the same designer dress. As always, last year’s innovation is this year’s plug’n’play; there were plenty of vendors showing how once-proprietary and singular systems, like motion capture and facial reading, are now available to be licensed by any game developer.
It was exciting to see that at least one game in the Independent Games Summit corridor in the North Hall was a music-based one, Cinnamon Beats
from the studio Secret Exit (secretexit.com
, from which the above concept image was sourced).
There were a heap of panels and lectures on audio and music in video games, and I’m hopeful that footage of some of these will pop up on the Internet in the future. The ones with asterisks are of particular interest:
Many sessions were dedicated to specific games:
And there was a session with Masafumi Takada
, the composer on Killer7
, Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked
, God Hand
, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
, and No More Heroes
From an interview with Autechre‘s Rob Brown at pitchforkmedia.com on the occasion of the new album Quaristice:
But there is a kind of yearning for a big musical movement to blow everything else away, and I guess r&b is kind of holding everything back in that regard. The only developments you get are like Timbaland might tweak something here or there more than he did last year, or people will go get the acoustic guitar samples out and Neptunes will jump on it. There’s these things, but I think we’re just in our own little world trying to have our new ideas in slightly newer contexts. I think that’s the same plan that we’ve always had since day one, slipping into the cracks in a society of music that doesn’t quite deliver the things that we need personally from it.
Up at the Red Bull Music Academy, a conversation with Steve Beckett, Warp Records founder, on the rise of rave culture, the influence of hip-hop on electronic music, how British geography shapes culture, early adventures in online distribution, working with Designers Republic, and more subgenres than you can shake a glow stick at (MP3). Additional details at redbullmusicacademy.com.
There’s a funny bit at the end when it appears that Mark Pritchard (aka Reload) asks a question of Beckett, and Beckett says that when he’s done answering he has a question in return for Pritchard, who is apparently four years into a contract to deliver an album to Warp. For context, here’s a 2002 Red Bull interview with Pritchard, in which he mentions his association with Warp: redbullmusicacademy.com.
Not all the freely downloadable music at the website of Robert (Monolake) Henke is outtakes of Henke’s past recordings. He some time back posted the complete, out-of-print album Steady State Music, released by Wieland Samolak in 1993. It was the first record ever on the Imbalance record label. Its five tracks consist of low rumbles, gestural textures, and, foremost, treated noise — noise so dramatic and rich that what is initially essentially the sound of a TV set on a dead station comes, in time, to have the depth of a large-scale choral arrangement. Get the full set at monolake.de. The files are all compressed at a generous 320kbps, all the better to drone — er, zone — out to.