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Various Artists Jukebox Buddha

While some cherish the FM3 Buddha Machine for its simplistic, lo-fi preset loops, the 15 ambient and drone veterans present on Jukebox Buddha put the little guy in the game, pushing it from an 8-bit chant box into a mammoth tone generator. Folks like Thomas Fehlmann and Sun City Girls push the cigarette-sized box to the limit with hazy soundscapes reminiscent of Beijing at its most serene, but it's the surprises that make this the quintessential comp for ambient heads everywhere. Sunn O))) disregards their gritty, subsonic walls of distortion for tranquil brutality rooted in a 10-minute ode to cosmic bass. But Einstürzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld steals the show with the fluttering "Little Yellow," a startlingly pretty composition that (literally) chirps in at just over one minute. Regardless of what the plastic machine might do on its own, Jukebox Buddha is an impressive and engaging byproduct.

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