Tuesday, 15 December 2009


The new Buddha Machine is here, and I mean here, in front of me. It's called Gristleism on account of it being a collaboration between FM3 (the Chinese musicians responsible for the Buddha Machine) and noise/industrial band Throbbing Gristle. (The collaboration was to be called the Throbbing Gristle Box, but KFC already had that trademarked.)

The original Buddha Machine played nine ambient loops; BM 2.0 added a pitch shifter. (There is a Buddha Machine iPhone app that performs the same functions, although it lacks the artefactual qualities of the original.) The Gristleism unit or toy or whatever-you'd-call-it does much the same thing, only with Throbbing Gristle loops instead of FM3 originals.

Gristleism is a curiosity, but I'm not sure what you're meant to do with it. You put it on, listen to the weird creepy loops, fiddle with the pitch, then turn it off. I left it running while doing housework and while the droning and hacking and blipping does resolve into a pleasing/disturbing ambiance, the effect is diminished by the unit's tinny speaker. Gristleism's main value comes from the confused look on people's faces when they turn it on for the first time. (This pleasure is undermined somewhat by the look on people's faces when I explain that this essentially useless plastic box cost me $45.)

It's probably a bit late, but Gristleism would make an ideal stocking stuffer - for somebody you hate. Don't give it to them; hide it somewhere in their house and watch them go slowly insane trying to find the source of all those strange noises.

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