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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Build Your Own Buddha Machine 2.0 (MP3s)

To close off the recent flurry of big Buddha Machine news (, the device’s creators, FM3 (Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian) have made available for free download all nine of the little sound-art gadget’s loops. They come packed in one tidy archive (ZIP), weighing in at just over 4mb. The entries range in length from 10 seconds to just over a minute.

Following up on that FM3 interview from earlier this week (, Virant explained via email that the titles of the first Buddha Machine’s tracks were “all based on the instruments used to create the sounds” (“Ma,” “Zheng,” “Sheng,” “B1,” “Yang,” “Xiao,” “Zhong,” “B2,” “Wu”). As for the version 2.0 tracks (“Mao,” “Li,” “Piano,” “Ceng,” “Xi,” “Gen,” “Yu,” “Dui,” “Huan”), the titles are, he said, “more lyrical (except for, obviously, ‘piano’) and based more on the ‘feeling’ they evoke in the listener.” Virant also said there’s at least one more announcement coming — after which, new Buddha Machine 2.0 news will likely come in the form of remixes by musicians inspired by the new edition’s pitch control.

Some of these 2.0 MP3s have popped up as individual downloads in earlier Buddha Machine news in recent weeks, but this is the first time they’ve all been available on the English-language FM3 site ( What’s telling is how many textural and sonic differences there are between them than was the case with the the original, version 1.0 machine’s nine loops. They’re also less inherently ruminative. Version 2.0’s “Li” has the pulsing momentum of the revived Battlestar Galactica TV show’s opening theme music, and the piano on “Piano” and loosely strung guitar on “Ceng” are identifiable enough as “real world” instruments to keep the tracks from ever feeling as purely ethereal as version 1.0’s consistently abstract drones.

So, while you await delivery of your new Buddha Machine, download the sonic source code and set them to loop in your favorite MP3 player. More information at (The original nine loops remain available for free download as an archive of WAV files: ZIP.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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