The battery-powered magic of the FM3 Buddha Machine

Check it out.

It's the FM3 Buddha Machine. [Click here to open a working online version of it.]

Kind of like a cross, aesthetically, between your grandpa's transistor radio and an iPod. What comes out of it isn't what you might expect out of either of those, most likely.

It plays loops. Inspired loops. For twenty-something bucks, you get this weird but handsome little machine that just plays loops. It's definitely worth it, actually.

The loops, created by a duo in Beijing, are sort of drony, chanty, and/or Asian sounding -- but in some sort of faraway, gurgling, 'dream-Asia' way. A poor explanation, granted, but the sounds themselves are lovely. Their drony, chanty quality is surely one reason for the Buddha Machine's name. It's as if the sounds are emanating from a busy, distant temple. A busy, distant temple underwater somewhere.

There's another reason for the name, too. It's not important, but it's not uninteresting: apparently, in some big Asian Buddhist temples they use a little machine that plays loops of actual chanting. This is because: 1) Chanting, and the mental environment that it 'causes' are valued in much of Chinese (and other forms of ) Buddhism. And, 2) It makes it seem to the outside world like you've got a packed house behind your temple gates! . . .Think of it as good-natured viral marketing.

Anyway, this is that machine, just with a little customizing, and it's great. Now, the sounds are 'meditative,' okay, but they're probably not for 'meditation,' as most people might think of it.

What the FM3 Buddha Machine does do for sure is create mood. And it's nice to use. You put the battery in, set the volume, and toggle between and choose one of a few supplied loops, which come out of the little speaker perforated into the plastic case. The sound? Definitely low-fi. It's great! Great to be in bed to, great to sleep to, great for just listening to. Like all sound, it transforms its surroundings.

Check it out some more:
Almost Cool review
Microsuoni review
FM3 site
Staalplaat mail order

Boomkat mail order
Those last links have some buying info.

Or, if you would rather build your own, here are the instructions:
(Little joke.) | "happy to be the worst" | 2006, 2007, 2008 | credits and gratitude

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