Layering Buddha

The 'Buddha Machine' by chinese artist duo 'FM3' is a small sample playback device containing nine short loops. Due to manufacturing imperfections, individual machines play those with a slightly different sound, pitch and duration. The built-in playback circuit, with its low sampling rate and bit resolution, produces a very rough sound, similar to ancient computer games or talking toys. Rich textures and moving echoes occur when many of these machines are played at the same time, distributed in spcace.

Robert Henke - Layering Buddha album cover

2006 | imbalance | ICM 06

Layer 001 [listen]
Layer 002 [listen]
Layer 003 [listen]
Layer 004 [listen]
Layer 005 [listen]
Layer 006 [listen]
Layer 007 [listen]
Layer 008 [listen]
Layer 009 [listen]
Layer 010 [listen]

Total running time: 61:06

Composed by Robert Henke 2006

Formats: digital, CD, limited edition box with five 7" singles

Buy at Hardwax

two FM3 buddha machines

I recorded the sound of one single buddha machine at 96 kHz, using a state of the art A/D converter. The recording contains audio information up to 48 kHz, which makes it possible to transpose the loops down and expose otherwise inaudible hidden details. The pieces on this CD have been created by granulating, filtering, pitching and layering either the original loops, or new loops which were re-assembled out of parts of the originals. Most pieces are based on one single source loop.

The pieces as they live within my computer are set up as continuously permutating structures and theoretically could go on forever, just as the loops do within the buddha machines.

I made quite long renderings of these permutations and later decided which excerpt of each structure to put on this CD. Therefore, the tracks are not closed works, but views onto a perpetual machinery.

Robert Henke - Layering Buddha singles

The limited edition vinyl box closes the circle. After transforming the rough recordings of the original buddha machines into multi-layered deep spacious compositions full of detail the music is brought back to an outdated, inferior sounding media; the seven inch vinyl single. These singles encourage the listener to mix, filter and pitch the layers in order to create even more complex textures.

The limited edition contains all ten album pieces in slightly modified versions on five grey vinyl sinlges with full color label prints, packed together in a full color cardbord box, numbered by hand from 001 to 500.


Layering Buddha can be performed as a multichannel surround sound concert. Details and two live recordings can be found here.


Layering Buddha was awarded an Honorary Mention in the Digital Musics category at the 2007 Prix Ars Electronica competition.


Artwork based on photos by Justine Lera, mastering by Rashad Becker. FM3 Buddha Machine created by Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian.