the Buddha Machine

Recently I stumbled upon some news about the buddha machine: a small device that looks like a cheap fm-radio that endless loops 9 ambient samples. You can switch samples, connect a headphone, or listen to it using the built in speaker. The ambient sample-loops for this small device are created by Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, known as FM3.

Brian Eno is said to have bought eight of these things, for obvious installation purposes.

Well th?t’s a gadget (*) I cannot refuse! So I immediately ordered one from Staalplaat.
It’s a conceptual thing: it’s the idea that counts more than the result. Due to the inexpensive hardware the samples don’t even nearly sound like they do on-line (click the speaker icon below to hear the online version).
But still – the Buddha Machine proves irrestistable. After the initial scorn for buying ‘crap’ like this (“it doesn’t even play decent radio!”) I found my family playing with the thing and enjoying this piece of obvious irrelevancy. Although I probably won’t buy the complete series, I certainly won’t regret this purchase….

(I’m very curious to hear about any other ‘ambient gadget’ you may have found, so please let me know if you did)

(*) there’s a matter of definition here: a gadget is defined as ‘a device that is very useful for a particular job’ – whereas ‘a device of clever design that has no practical purpose’ is called a novelty item. It’s up to you to decide which one the buddha machine is.

Brilliant Concepts 2: LAST.FM

Almost everyone online is online permanently, using ADSL or Cable. This fact has produced some new concepts that would never have been possible before..such as that of last.fm – your own online music profile that you can fill up with the music you like. This information is used to create a personal radio station and to find users who are similar to you.

Basically – it’s very simple: you install a small plugin, and from that moment on the information about all tracks you play is stored in your online musical profile (only the tags, not the tracks themselves). This of course assumes that you play your music on a PC connected to the net, so playing normal Cd’s don’t count. But really – who still plays original cd’s???

After playing 500+ or so tracks, your musical contours get more detailed and your profile reveals your musical hangups and habits. This may lead to some beautiful spinoffs: if you like this, you might also like that. Of the 20.000 people listening to the same track you did, about 90% also listens to (…fill in a band that you may never have heard of!…).
Eventually, you get neighbours, or even friends, based on the musical profile you build. People you would never ever meet in your local record store, just because they may live in another part of the world. And there’s more…

Brilliant Concepts 1: Instant live concerts

Remember the good old bootleg days? The thrill of hearing a recording of a concert you actually joined (regardless of the sound quality of the recording)?
Even for people that did not join the concert themselves, a bootleg recording may have some magic to it. 
There are lots of fans exchanging all their live-tapes…(as if 50+ concert recordings do not start to sound alike…)

The guys (I guess) at instantliveconcerts.com have understood this concept and used current technology to offer a quality cd concert-recording in about six minutes after the concert ends…Now that’s what I call HOT.