I love a good gimmick

A strange little item came across my desk a couple of weeks ago. It’s something by an electronic duo called FM3 and it’s called Buddha Machine.

Basically, it’s supposed to look like a toy MP3 player, only it’s got a cheap, crackling speaker, like a radio. It comes with two AA batteries, and the packaging has the appearance of a box of Chinese firecrackers. Songs, or rather the nine loops of sound that comprise the … recording, are listed in character form. It comes with switches that allow you to adjust volume, and it has an output jack

An ingenious marketing ploy, I couldn’t help but take a listen. Along the lines of Brian Eno’s ambient excursions, the Buddha Machine is an exercise in Zen-like patience. These quiet pieces flood your ears with mellifluous sound that barely evolves or offers any shifting movements, but it’s beautiful to behold nonetheless. Call it musical wallpaper if you must, but these sonic landscapes are as soothing as a spa and as endless as the sky.

For more information on the Buddha Machine, visit http://www.forcedexposure.com/artists/fm3.html. Give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Per our conversation on Wednesday regarding the Smashing Pumpkins’ new album, Zeitgeist, it’s … well, the only word I can use to describe it is “meh?” And that would be accompanied by a shrugging of the shoulders.

It’s not a horrible misstep, and there are genuinely heavy, awesome explosions of sound in its second half, but Billy Corgan’s sense of melody has up and gone. The early part of the record is just a lot of power and bluster, without a strong structure to support it. The hooks are ugly and obnoxious. Overall, I’d give it two stars out of five.

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