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robert henke (monolake) - Layering Buddha
Just one week on from the release of FM3's album, Hou Guan Yin, Monolake and Ableton main man Robert Henke unleashes this epic dissection of the Buddha Machine and its sonic capabilities. Over the course of an hour, Henke pitch-shifts, filters and multitracks the various loop permutations offered by the device in order to engineer a staggeringly rich and complex ambience. The key point to make about this album is that the soundworld Henke creates is vastly sophisticated, almost inexplicably far-removed from the lo-fi murmur of the Buddha Machine's loops; only the grainy, hazy resolution of the source material give him away. The state-of-the-art, high bitrate recording equipment Henke used for these pieces means that he was able to slow down and outstretch the loops to reveal previously inaudible timbral qualities. This resultant clash of hi-fi and lo-fi technologies is at times like a very modern equivalent of listening to a digital transfer of some unearthed wax cylinder or 78rpm shellac. It's the multi-layered density of Henke's pieces here that reveals his skill not just as a sound engineer and all-round boffin, but as an extraordinary composer of contemporary ambient music. He manages to coax hitherto unheard emotive and melodic qualities from the loops while preserving the overall aesthetic and feel of his source material. Superb.