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Image of the Week: Gristleism (or Buddha Machine 3.0)

The groups FM3 and Throbbing Gristle know how to deploy a teaser campaign. First came subtle hints on Twitter. In retrospect, both the accounts of @buddhamachine (the sound-art device of lo-fi loops with which FM3 created something of a cottage industry) and @chriscarter (founding member of Throbbing Gristle, the founding band of industrial music) were mentioning, here and there, about a project, a collaboration (but with whom?), fiddling with loops, testing a new product.

Then came the announcement: there was a collaboration, and a name. The name is Gristleism. A name, and not much more — presumably, Gristleism, despite sounding like a philosophy, would be a product, a loop machine not unlike the Buddha Machine, but filled with all manner of Throbbing Gristle noises.

And then comes the first set of images, at gristleism.com, which as of around 2:56am Pacific Standard Time on September 19, has featured this trio of square boxes, as shown above. That’s when Carter made his latest little Twitter mention.

These are drawings, mind you — not photos of the Gristleism box, but concept images of the product in question. There are three colors, and judging by the silhouette, two wheels (perhaps one for volume and one for pitch-bending, as was the case with the second Buddha Machine), and a little nubbin dead center, likely the on/off switch. And, of course, a speaker that comprises most of the object’s face. And that is all.

Next up? Perhaps a photo — the 2:23am September 17th Twitter entry by Carter said he was editing photos, two days after @buddhamachine announced that a photo shoot was occurring, and the same day during which @buddhamachine mentioned the need for a re-shoot. Also as of this moment we know packaging was being printed and constructed in China (where FM3, the duo of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, makes its home), and that the device will have higher quality sound; that’s what @buddhamachine mentioned at 11:28am on September 11: “tech nerds: adjusted chip clock speed to give Gristleism 14K sample rate, up from 8K in the buddha. Result? Bigger TG bang for your buck!”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com 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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