Artist: The Smiling Buddhas
Label: Base Records
Genre: Rhythmic industrial/ IDM/ Ambient
01 Into the Gorge
02 Rio Gandaki
03 Dizzy In High Altitude
04 Up, Up, Slowly, Slowly
06 Friendly Dhee
07 A Green On 4k
09 End of Kora
The Smiling Buddhas is a dj Hun Fa – Di, who usually operates synths, samples and all the electronica solely on his own, and, as it is written on project’s MySpace page, “maybe” one of these guys: Bruce Li (modulated guitar), Di-Di Mow (modulated guitar), John Fitzpatrick (samples). The project is active since 1996, taking part in various live shows and compilation on Base Records, a label for experimental electronic music owned by Fadi Dorninger, the person behind Dorninger, Aural Screenshots, Monochrome Bleu, located in Linz, Austria. The CD itself comes in a creative “transformer” box made from thick paper, which makes it a unique piece of art.
The bandname is very interesting one. Unfortunately there’s little information about the band in the Internet, especially in English, so I don’t know whether the mastermind of this project took this event as an idea of the name of his project, but Smiling Buddha is the code name of the first nuclear test explosion by India on 18 May 1974 at Pokhran.
Actually when I first put this CD in the player to check it out, my mind, being veiled with certain images and ideas, was waiting for kind of another sound. However I was surprised hearing something which differs completely from my expectaions and going so well together with the box-cover design. Was it anything tribal? - you may ask. Kind of. The whole CD is an ethereal journey to the place that was formerly known as Kingdom of Lo (now Mustang District), a place in north-east of Nepal. “Into the Gorge” leads us slowly to the deep canyon to enjoy the silence and ambiance of mountains and finally brings us to the river (“Rio Gandaki”), which welcomes us with a motion of wind, waves and crystall, magic wisper of water – this second track is a fine continuation of the first one.
Afterwards with "Dizzy in High Altitude" we start getting into the mountains. “Unstable”, trembling, a bit chaotic and even freaky electronic sounds going up and up are sometimes accompanied by inclusion of tribal percussion, although most of the time they are accompanied by usual rhythmic lines. Then IDM-ish and slow comes "Up, Up, Slowly, Slowly", it envelopes the listener with hypnotising ticking high sounds which form the rhythmic ornament of the track and ringing atmospheric echoes. Finally we reached the destination, the place welcomes us with majestic “Lo” track, with something mystic in it, the shadow of history, events that took place here, with bells heard through the main soundline of the track, and hypnotising “Friendly Dhee”. “A Green on 4k” continues the ambient line of the album, and together with “Muktinath” makes one think to a wide open space (have you ever stood on mountain of on the hill when you are able to see far away and enjoy the fresh wind togeter with the sounds of nature?).
Muktinath is a sacred place both for Hindus and Buddhists, situated at an altitude of 3,710 meters in Mustang District. For Tibetan Buddhists it is a very important place of Dakinis, goddesses known as Sky Dancers and one of the 24 Tantric places. The album is closed with “End of Kora” track (Kora is a type of pilgrimage in the Buddhist tradition, maybe that is the origin of the title), which musically consists of the sound of wind and different bells and taking into consideration the photos presented on the label’s official site as well as on the cover of this CD, it seems that those sounds might be recorded live.