New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Disquiet.com 25th Anniversary Countdown (4 of 13): Buddha Machine(s)

An archival ambient advent calendar from December 1st – 13th, 2021

It’s day 4 of my archival ambient advent calendar countdown to the 25th anniversary of Disquiet.com, which was founded December 13, 1996. As time passed during the quarter century of Disquiet.com’s existence, my focus didn’t necessarily shift so much as expand. In the process, the devices used to make sound became as much an interest of mine as is the music itself. At the Venn Diagram overlap are devices that make sound where there’s an internal coherence to them, where the sound object is as much object as sound, and a key example of that is the Buddha Machine.

Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, who together comprise FM3, introduced the Buddha Machine in 2005. It borrowed its shape from cheap boxes that Virant, an American living in China, came upon a decade earlier in the gift shops of Buddhist temples. He and Jian made their own such box, but in the place of the original prayers were abstract ambient, textural, and rhythmic material intended to be played on loop. I’ve interviewed Virant twice, once when the Buddha Machines first came out, in 1995 “Buddha in the Machine,” and then three years later, when FM3 introduced a second generation: “Buddha Machine, Reloaded.” (And during pandemic lockdown, I also recorded a bunch of short videos, the Buddha Machine Variations, of Buddha Machines being used as musical instruments.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
    • January 6, 2023: This day marked the 11th anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.

  • Recent
    • April 16, 2022: I participated in an online "talk show" by The Big Conversation Space (Niki Korth and Clémence de Montgolfier).
    • March 11, 2022: I hosted a panel discussion between Mark Fell, Rian Treanor and James Bradbury in San Francisco as part of the Algorithmic Art Assembly (aaassembly.org) at Gray Area (grayarea.org).
    • December 28, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the Instagr/am/bient compilation.
    • January 6, 2021: This day marked the 10th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • December 13, 2021: This day marked the 25th (!) anniversary of the start of the Disquiet Junto music community.
    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    • A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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