FM3 is the Beijing-based music duo of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian. They are considered among the pioneers of electronic music in China. Since 1999, Virant and Jian have been making meditative music by combining the sound of Chinese classical instruments with modern digital techniques.
They are best known for their 2005 release, the Buddha Machine loop-player.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Christiaan Virant moved to China in the 1980s to study Chinese Music and culture. In 1999, Virant joined Zhang Jian to form FM3; a project where the pair could experiment with music that combined the sound of Chinese classical instruments with modern digital techniques. Starting out as “the ambient, chill-out band that played in the back room” of Beijing clubs and evolving into a “meditative” sound.
In 2005, FM3 began work on a small musical loop player dubbed the Buddha Machine. Roughly the size of a pack of cigarettes the device has only one toggle switch to cycle through samples, a combined power and dial and an integrated speaker. The device contains a chip holding nine digitally-encoded (drones) ranging in length from 1.5 to 40 seconds. The name and idea derived from a popular Chinese device that intones repeating loops of Buddhist chanting. In an interview with the public radio show Studio 360 regarding the creation of the Buddha Machine, Virant said he was inspired by a device found in a Buddhist temple. Attracted to its design, he applied it as a means of presenting his loop-based music.
Following the original, two new editions of the Buddha Machine have been released: the second unit, released in 2008, features nine new loops and pitch control. The third unit (entitled Chan Fang 禅房; translated as Zen Room) and released in 2010, replaced the electronic drones on the first units with loops performed on the Gu Qin, an ancient Chinese classical instrument. Following these new releases, the band also produced iPhone and iPad apps that have similar functionality to the physical devices. In November 2012, the fourth generation Buddha Machine was released, containing 8 new loops and shipped with one of four day-glo case colours.
In 2013, FM3 collaborated with Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius, to make a loop-playing device called Ghost in the Machine. The device contains three tracks from his soundtrack for the Anime film Ghost in the Shell: Arise. 
The Buddha Machine fulfills certain criteria of a generative music device. The idea of layering loops of ambient sound goes back to Brian Eno who worked similarly using tape machines for installations. Eno was himself an early supporter of the Buddha Machine. David Byrne in his book "How Music Works" references the Buddha Machine as an early step toward a future where all types of music could be machine generated.
In addition to the Buddha Machine, FM3 has a number of releases on CD and Vinyl formats and their music appears in various film and television soundtracks in China and the West.
- "Hou Guan Yin" (with Dou Wei), Lona Records (CD, Dig), Hong Kong, 2006
- "Mort Aux Vaches" (Part of the Mort Aux Vaches series), Staalplaat (CD), 2005
- "Radio Pyongyang" Sublime Frequencies (CD), USA, 2005
- "Streets of Lhasa" Sublime Frequencies (CD), USA, 2005
- "Chuan Song" FM3 Zhang, Kwanyin (CD), China, 2005
- "Jing Hua Yuan Ji" (with Dou Wei), Shanghai Audio Visual (CD), China, 2004
- "Bu Ke Neng" (with Yan Jun and Wu Quan), Kwanyin (CD), China, 2003
- Layering Buddha - On October 27, 2006, Robert Henke released an album called Layering Buddha which contains 10 tracks that have been created by "filtering, pitching and layering either the original loops, or new loops which were re-assembled out of parts of the originals."
- Jukebox Buddha - In November 2006 Berlin record label Staubgold released a 15-track album of Buddha Machine remixes entitled Jukebox Buddha. Contributors include Sun City Girls, Sunn O))), Thomas Fehlmann, Jan Jelinek with Andrew Pekler and Hanno Leichtmann, Einstürzende Neubauten's Blixa Bargeld, Monolake's Robert Henke, Alog, and Mapstation among others.
- Buddha Machine Music - In March 2011, Jan Linton released a mini album from Entropy Records called Buddha Machine Music a mini CD of 22 minutes which contains 6 compositions by Jan Linton using treated sounds from Buddha Machines 1.0 and 2.0, along with his performances on various instruments including the zhongruan and saz.
- He Xie Fu - A new version of the "Jukebox Buddha" remix compilation was released in November 2011 by FM3. The compilation features a lineup of all Chinese artists.
Tracks appear on
- "P.Pa, Zheng" Bip-Hop Generation [v.7] (CD, Dig), BiP_HOp, 2004
- "Ambience Sinica" Very Best of the Far East (CD), Nascente, UK, 2004
- "Bitzen" Condominium (CD), Mousike Lab, 2004
- "Ruan" Mutek 05 (2xCD), Mutek_Rec, 2005
- "Part #1, Part #2" Radio Worm 59 (CDr), Worm Records, 2005
- "Untitled" Yokomono 02: 55 Lock Grooves (LP), Staalplaat, 2005
- "Monoqin" Minicomp2 (7", Comp, Ltd), Sneakmove, 2007
- "East 18b," Silent Room (DVD, PAL + DVD, NTSC + 2xCD, Comp + Box, Ltd), SK Factory, 2007
- Wagstaff, Jeremy (May 12, 2007). "The anti iPod". Wall Street Journal.
- Walker, Rob (July 29, 2007). "Boxed Set". Consumed. The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Roose, Chris (June 8, 2007). "Buddha Machine". Studio 360. Public Radio International. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Weidenbaum, Marc (December 14, 2010). "If You Meet the Buddha Machine on the Road, Hack it". BoingBoing. Happy Mutants LLC. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (January 12, 2009). "Instant Karma". The New Yorker. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Maleshefski, Tiffany (November 11, 2010). "Buddha Machine for iPad". Zendesk Nation. Zendesk. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- "Buddha Machine 4 est arrivé!". FM3. FM3. Retrieved January 26, 2013.
- Virant, Christiaan (November 12, 2012). FM3 Buddha Machine 4 loop01 video (Video). China: FM3.
- Dombal, Ryan (September 25, 2009). "Throbbing Gristle Make Their Own Buddha Machine". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved January 09, 2012.
- XLR8R, November 2004
- Village Voice - An Interactive Box from Beijing Provides Loops to Make Fetishists Swoon by Christopher Weingarten
- The Wire magazine Issue 257, July 2005
- staubgold website
- Linton, Jan. "Buddha Machine Music". Entropy Records. Retrieved 2012-03-16.
- Isaac Julien's Ten Thousand Waves