In the midst of the US election, I missed an important announcement: the smash hit Buddha Machine, a mysterious little $25 gadget that generates its own ambient music, has a sequel. You might think of Buddha Machine 2 as Buddha Machine Pro. New features:

  • A bigger sonic palette, with nine loops
  • Pitch bend (which the creators describe as being “like a whammy bar for your buddha box”)
  • Three colors (well, it is a consumer product of sorts!)

Expanding the sonic capabilities will be a welcome change. The packaging is wonderful, with a symbolically-appropriate lotus flower and a round hole that lets the speaker poke through. The only thing that makes me not immediately excited about the Buddha Box is that I’m really fond of open platforms, and this seems like a closed box – albeit a really beautiful one. While the RjDj project looks promising, the vision of a box that streams endless generative musical ideas to you, even on the new Mac-like iPods and iPhones, still hasn’t yet been realized. Of course, I do love the idea of a musical object that is meditative.

I haven’t gotten my hands on Son of Buddha Machine just yet, but here’s some good reading below. And at $25, it’ll be hard to resist picking one up. Check your hip indie record store or head to Cargo UK, Rough Trade (UK, which has a great write-up, too), or Forced Exposure (US).

Buddha Machine 2 released: Ambient device [Digital Tools]

Official site from FM3 collective

Hands On: Buddha Machine 2 [Gear Log, which does a real mini-review of the box]

And here it is in action. It sounds utterly fantastic – it really is a musical work of art, as an object: