Various: Jukebox Buddha

Staubgold, 2006

Jukebox Buddha cover

This compilation seems like a wonderful idea, since the Buddha Machine (an inexpensive battery-powered plastic box which plays nine lo-fi loops) makes such great source material. Unfortunately, not all of the mixes are in the spirit of the Buddha. Wang Fan’s track is sufficiently atmospheric, with a winding nasal horn over washes of noise. Likewise Kammerflimmer Kollektief’s “Gammler, Zen + Hohe Berge” is sweet and simple, despite its unwieldy name. Acoustic strings dance around the occasional burst of static. Adrian Sherwood and Doug Wimbish’s “Karma-Cola” is of course quite dubby.

Some of the tracks are less enchanting. Aki Onda’s “The Buddha in New York” features unpleasantly piercing screeches over restaurant noise. Blixa Bargeld torments my dogs with bird calls, while Alog showcases humans howling like canines. Center of Excellence (Andrew Pekler, Hanno Leichtmann, and Jan Jelinek) created an over-the-top faux commercial that’s more embarrassing than amusing.

My favorite tracks here are actually the most minimal. “BP//Simple” by sunnO))) is a mesmerizing ten minutes of pulses, drones, and monk chants. “Layer 02” from Robert Henke’s excellent Layering Buddha album is just as deep. While this compilation has its moments, you might just want to pick up Henke’s project. It’s much more cohesive, meditative, and beautiful.

3/5 stars