On Robert Henke's last album, Signal To Noise, he created some extended explorations of granular delays on the Yamaha SY77 synth. The results were surprisingly organic sounding in places, calling to mind the sound of thunderstorms, along with a bristling electronic edge in other places. For his follow-up, he's gone even more lo-fi, using only samples from last years remarkable little Buddha Machine for a sound sources. One of many artists charmed by the device (Brian Eno supposedly bought 8 of them upon first hearing them), Henke has created an album that enriches the somewhat tinny source sounds from the small box and expands them onto an even wider ambient canvas.
As a software technology developer for Ableton, Henke churns the bits and pieces pulled from the Buddha Machine through Live. On most tracks, he takes slightly longer (at their longest, a couple seconds, based on the limitations of the source device) loops and then layers them alongside micro-sampled bits that are touched with noise and reverb, usually while slowed-down samples creep underneath. Opening track "Layer 001" is one of the more active, as you can hear the original loop from the box reflecting outward throughout the piece, only to be swarmed over in places by insect-sounding digital noises and a sweeping lower layer that makes the track sound even darker.
From there, Henke works several tracks of molasses-slow drones that take the original lo-fidelity sounds and stretch every drop of texture out of them. "Layer 002" and "Layer 003" are both float somewhere between Stars Of The Lid and Deathprod, while tracks like "Layer 004" and "Layer 007" get a bit less fluid, with swarming, gurgling electronics that push into slightly more harsh territory. The ten track CD is also being released in a 5x7" package that encourages even more layering by the home listener, and while many of the tracks push into lush territory that the solid-state original can't quite reach, there are a few places on the effort where things break down into slightly muddled sounding efforts that aren't quite as fulfilling. Henke certainly has an ear for this sort of thing, and Layering Buddha is more involving than I thought it would be. Ambient heads (or those obsessed with the little Buddha Machine itself) will definitely find things to love here.