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    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    I heart my Buddha Machine

    FM3's Buddha Machine made Stephen's top 15 list for last year, and it certainly made my list too. Yet I didn't feature it in my podcast simply because it wasn't terribly practical to do so. You see, the Buddha Machine (a holiday gift from Tim) comes in a small cardboard box adorned with Chinese lettering and it isn't a CD. At first, I thought, it might be a box of exotic fish jellies. But to my surprise, when I opened it, I found a bright blue plastic gadget not unlike a small radio you might find at a Radio Shack clearance sale.

    Puzzled, I looked to Tim for answers. He just shrugged and said, "I dunno. It's a record. Merry Christmas." I popped in the 2 AA batteries that came with the thing and switched on the box using the volume dial. We were instantly greeted with a warm instrumental drone. I needed to know more.

    So after some quick Googling, I learned that the Buddha Machine has 9 tracks - all looping tones ranging in length from 2 seconds to 42 seconds. You proceed through each track by using the toggle switch on its side. Back and forth you go, and the Buddha Machine knows to advance to the next track. With this little invention, audio technology took a giant leap backwards. There's no rewind, no pause, and barely any controls to speak of. You turn it off, and when you turn it back on, it begins at track 1 again. Neat.

    Pitchfork has a nice review of the Buddha Machine. For me, all I can say is: Wow. What a neat contraption.