One of the artists featured on Volume 24 of Ball of Wax (coming out tonight!) is a local composer named Peter Vukmirovic Stevens. He has composed for everything from solo piano to symphony orchestra, but the pieces of his that most intrigued me were his compositions for solo piano and Buddha Machine.
What’s a Buddha Machine, you ask? It’s a delightful little device (created by FM3) that fits in your pocket and plays loops of soothing and interesting music. The creators openly encourage Buddha Machine users to take their loops and remix, re-edit, or collaborate with them, and Stevens has taken up that challenge with gusto, setting his machine on various loops and composing piano pieces that interact and play off of them. “I wrote these pieces to work with the Buddha Machine as a real duet,” says Stevens, “not just to add another layer of ambient music to the loops. I wanted to draw more on the harmonic and rhythmic structure of the loops.”
The pieces as I’ve heard them are quite short, which is part of his vision for them: “The pieces are meant to be short to keep up the interest of the listener by having a performance of the nine pieces around 15 minutes in length.” Those with less fondness for drone might disagree, but I would love to hear them expanded and repeated for as long as the pianist is up to it and the Machine’s batteries hold – or at least a full performance of a couple hours or so. Here’s a sample of a few of his loops, including Loop 5, which is featured on Volume 24:
These pieces were premiered at a concert with The Seattle Pianist Collective – of which Stevens is a member. The Collective will be presenting a program on Saturday, June 25 at 8pm at the Chapel Performance Space and Sunday, June 26 at 2pm at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.