Editor’s note: After announcing the highly anticipated M.A.D.1 Red earlier this year, the magicians at MB&F are back with another mechanical wizardry, one that’s both for your audio and visual senses. Meet the new REUGE x MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded. For our detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is not a sponsored post.
Tune 1 – Musings On The MusicMachine 1 Reloaded
Music in general, is and perhaps should be, personal for everyone. It can often become an escape from the present, a sojourn into a peaceful galaxy of its own.
I reference the soundtracks of the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Thomas Crown Affair movies in this review, and while I realise that MB&F’s new music box is not based on either, but like everything personal, and like the best of 70s if you may, the REUGE x MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded captures the essence of a genre defining music from that era and leaves you ‘Hooked On a Feeling’.
So, as music transports you to a Trek amongst the stars, as you ‘Imagine’ your ‘Imperial March’ to a galaxy far, far away, as you wait for the ‘Smoke on the Water’ to clear, as you feel the need for “no education”, or as it becomes a personal journal to the ‘Windmills of Your Mind’, everytime you will simply find yourself mesmerised by the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded.
Tune 2 – MusicMachine 1 Reloaded Gut Reaction
Step one. Insert the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 soundtrack cassette into the player.
Step Two. Click Play.
Step Three. ‘Go All The Way’ to a place that’s the best for your musical journey. ‘Escape’ (perhaps with a pina colada) to your own ‘Moonage Daydream’ where the best of independent kinetic art meets the best of music automatons.
My first reaction on seeing the photos of the new REUGE x MB&F MusicMachine 1 Reloaded was to picture it as a tangible version of the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy movie. An escape in itself, great music and space travel all crystallise into a compact form for you to marvel at daily.
Of course, the new REUGE x MB&F music box isn’t a homage to this particular movie, and my reference here is purely based on my gut reaction.
Though one thing is for sure; if your jam is the best of 70s music, the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is the space-shuttle to board.
Tune 3 – Traditional meets Modern
Music boxes are conventionally an ode to classical music with traditional conservative designs seeped in the echoes of a by-gone era. The MusicMachine 1 Reloaded, like everything else by MB&F, is different. My initial impression past, I ended up appreciating the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded even more. It’s not simply a standalone ‘gimmick’, but rather a well thought of and nuanced music box that has been evolving for nearly a decade.
Nine years ago MB&F embarked on the journey of ‘Co-creations’, courtesy the MusicMachine 1; a superlative high-end music box music box designed by Xin Wang and created with REUGE.
REUGE for those who may not know is a legend in the music box making industry, having first embarked in their revolutionary journey some 155 years ago. Founded in 1865 in Sainte-Croix, it has established itself as a leading manufacturer of music automatons.
Picking up from where Xin Wang left, the latest updated version of the MusicMachine 1 features a more aerodynamic and organic design conceptualised by Mr Büsser and ECAL design graduate Max Maertens.
Tune 4 – Mind, Body & Soul
The 3kg anodized aluminium body — replacing the wood of the original 2013 MusicMachine — with bead-blasted and anodised aluminium outriggers measures 381 wide x 476 long x 140mm high and sits majestically atop a black wood matt finished acoustically-enhancing launchpad. The MusicMachine 1 Reloaded showcases two ‘propellers’ (rotating in opposite directions) and 3.72 movements — 3 refers to number of melodies on each cylinder and 72 refers to number of notes on each comb — that provide mechanical gravitas to the otherwise futuristic looking space-shuttle music box.
Three melodies are played per cylinder with one melody played per revolution of the cylinder, and each lasting for about 35 seconds. The total power reserve when fully wound is ~10 minutes.
The right cylinder plays rock ‘n’ roll attitude bearing extracts from “Another Brick in the Wall” (1979) written by Roger Waters and originally performed by Pink Floyd, “Smoke on the Water” (1973) written and originally performed by Deep Purple, and “Imagine” (1971) written and originally performed by John Lennon. The left cylinder plays extracts from Star Wars (1977) main title by John Williams, “Imperial March” (1980) by John Williams, and Star Trek (1979) main title by Jerry Goldsmith. All have been personally pre-selected by Maximilian Büsser.
The new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded reflects the 70s music soul orchestrated by REUGE’s thoughtful prowess and packaged inside an MB&F body.
Tune 5 – Mechanically Impressive
Like all MB&F offerings, the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is also a mechanical masterpiece.
Say if someone was playing a piece of music on the piano, they won’t necessarily use all of the keys for every piece of music. And every piece of music doesn’t use the same keys. Now they have 6 pieces of music they wish to use, and have selected the most iconic sections from those to be played. The REUGE musician would have had to transpose the music so that there were as many overlapping notes as possible. But of course there would also be some notes that would be exclusive to a particular piece of music.
But unlike a standard piano where you have all the 88 keys, they pre-selected 72 to play the melodies. Impressively, “the combs are hand-tuned from a unique steel alloy specifically selected for its acoustic impact”.
Just like one would wind a mechanical watch with a crown that is attached to a winding stem and the cogs and gears of the watch movement will play their dedicated roles and a transfer of energy occurs, a simple conventional music box works when you rotate a metal cylinder object that is attached with protruding pins which as rotation occurs pluck the individual prongs of a steel plate that looks like a comb.
Similarly, the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded uses both the above principles where the energy is derived from coiled springs and transferred by gear trains. It also mimics traditional minute repeater watches that feature fan regulators to control the unwinding speed and regulate it.
Overall, 1,400 (protruding) precision-placed pins are attached to two cylinders, and when rotation occurs, the pins pluck the steel combs which feature a bespoke selection of 72 hand-tuned notes (teeth).
“What we have designed now is more complex than the original MusicMachine. Nine years later, with what I’ve learned, how I’ve evolved, and my tastes have changed, we basically reworked some of the details to have it become what I would want today. I’m not saying that I don’t like what we previously did, it’s just that being the creator I am today, this is what I would find cooler.”Max Büsser
“When it comes to design and creativity, MB&F is the specialist. However, when it comes to execution and excellence of product – the technical, engineering, and manufacturing side – we are comfortable. The ability to have a creative design that can reach out and touch people is amazing, while we know that we can produce the complementary quality when it comes to the technology”.REUGE CEO Amr Alotaishan
“I took the existing idea of how and where we place the mechanics and changed everything else about the MusicMachine, without losing the main essence of the previous piece – so that it really looks like a ‘reloaded’ version.”Max Maertens
Tune 6 – Parting Thoughts on the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded
One of the most striking aspects about the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded has to be the duality – whether be it of traditional medium of tunes expressed through a thoroughly modern, even futuristic device, or be it the choice of songs — rock vs sci-fi melodies — on opposing left and right ‘propellers’.
Next, there is the architectural design itself, that sees the use of visuals defying the sounds, and the use of plain contrasting bright red and blue against a more intricate geometry of the engineering. Then there is also the interplay of surface textures and aesthetics.
The MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is for those individuals of exquisite taste who not only appreciate fine mechanical art but are also life-long pursuers of the sci-fi genre and connoisseurs of 70s music (that’s played in a ‘pure’ form).
So if you like pina coladas, if you like music by John Williams, if you like MB&F’s design language, if you don’t wish to be “just another brick in the wall”, if you imagine yourself to be in a sci-fi movie, if you imagine yourself to possess a futuristic gadget, then you are in the right company with the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded.
The trouble with many non-MB&F designed objects is that once the initial charm wears down, they are just objects. “When it is all over”, you have “to find another” object to play with. It may seem that “Swiss time” is “running out”, it may seem that you “would lose the race” to have the coolest machine on the block. Enters the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded. The beauty of mechanical engineering feats like the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded lingers enduringly, turning into an art form for the senses.
Retailing for CHF 18,500 + VAT, the MusicMachine 1 Reloaded is available in limited edition of 33 pieces in blue, red, and black from 4th May onwards. You can find it on their eShop here.
Come and Get Your Love… and May The 4th Be With You.
To find out more about the new MusicMachine 1 Reloaded and other MB&F wizardry, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy are © MB&F SA 2018. All rights reserved.