Robert Henke: Layering Buddha
It’s amazing how similar this album is in both concept and execution to Signal to Noise from two years ago. That project saw Henke paying tribute to the Yamaha SY77 FM synthesizer. Here the lovable FM3 Buddha Machine is his source. The result is a gorgeous ambient album of echoes and crescendos. At times the pieces are soothing (“Layer 001”), other times they are tense and immense (“Layer 002”). The incredible heft of these sounds is a result of Henke’s recording process. Henke used a state-of-the-art A/D converter to record information up to 48 kHz, allowing him to pitch the recordings down to reveal previously inaudible data.
Listening to “Layer 002,” I picture massive clouds drifting on a distant planet. “Layer 004” conjures visions of the ocean’s shimmering surface seen from below. “Layer 006” has noisy reverb like a Chain Reaction record. “Layer 007” sounds like a crowd shaking wooden rattles at a raucous religious procession. “Layer 009” is hauntingly symphonic. A limited-edition, hand-numbered vinyl box set presents these pieces on grey vinyl 7-inches with full-color labels. In keeping with FM3’s tactile approach, Henke suggests experimentation with speed and simultaneous play. Even as a CD, this is a beautiful, thought-provoking experience.