Maximilian Busser & Friends have once again created a marvelous piece that pushes the boundaries in its category. This time, its novel MusicMachine 2 represents a new chapter in the creation of music boxes. It clearly basis its design on the looks of the iconic USS Entriprise starship from the Star Trek show and it is not just because it plays melodies from the show, but also because, in a sense, it features the complexity of a futuristic spaceship. It is undoubtedly the most technologically refine artifact of this kind so far. It simply has the qualities that are unseen in any other music boxes. Namely, it produces rich stereo melodies regardless of the surface on which it is positioned. MB&F MusicMachine2 is launched in two limited editions: 66 pieces in black color and 33 more with white treatment on the aluminum dome. The price of the amazing music box is set at $21,500.
To make a product that represents a qualitative leap in its category, MB&F teamed up with a flagship brand in the creation of music boxes, Reuge, as well as with JMC Lutherie. The latter of these two is responsible for the creation of a soundboard which gives the MusicMachine its unique properties and which is based on the combination of high tech materials and the work of traditional artisans which carefully hand-pick just one in a multitude of 350-year-old spruce trees which has the necessary resonating traits to be included in the structure.
Six Songs: Three Sci-Fi Themes and Three More Rock ‘N” Roll Classics
MusicMachine 2 plays six melodies in total which are enabled by two complex movements, each set inside its own cylinder and molded in the design that makes them look like exhaust pipes of the space vessel. The left cylinder is reserved for iconic sci-fi show themes, while the right one plays three more rock ’n’ roll classics. To make the distinction between two sets of music, the cylinders rotate in opposite directions.
The appearance and the choice of the songs that the second MB&F music box from the planned trilogy plays are the result of Maxilimilian Busser ‘s two greatest passions in addition to watchmaking, of course. The founder of the Swiss watchmaker (whose name stands for Maximilian Busser and friends) is a devoted admirer of science fiction and rock music. That is why MusicMachine2 plays three universally recognized sci-fi scores. One of them is from the Star Trek which could be expected since the product clearly resembles a Federation starship from the show. There is something for the admirers of the other great sci-fi franchise – the Star Wars – since the two other melodies are the main theme song and the score which is played whenever Darth Vader is in the scene.
As for the right cylinder, it is used to demonstrate the brand’s founder’s other passion. It plays three rock classics – Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, Angie by the Rolling Stones and Should I Stay Or Should I Go by the Clash. It is a very interesting choice and something one would certainly not expect from a music box, but it seems quite appropriate considering the strange nature of the product, the other three songs, a radical design of the product, as well as MB&F policy of creating unique products that are meant to stand out.
A Common Main-Plate with Two Movements with their Own Cylinders, Combs and Winding
Though the story about the six selected melodies is quite simple, the means used to make MuciMachine 2 play them in so rich, clear and powerful sound is much more complicated. Each of the two cylinders of the “starship” is a part of a separate movement and it ends with a winding knob of its own in a form of a thruster. Moreover, each of the cylinders is comprised of as much as 1,400 minute hand-applied and hand-polished pins. Additionally, it is attached to the appropriate comb which allows a reproduction of 72 different tones in total that are required to reproduce the melodies. When the mechanism for playing the theme is activated with a push-piece, cylinders start revolving and their tiny pins pluck the pins of their respective comb.
Two movements are mounted on a single base-plate made from nickel-plated brass and embellished with the Cotes de Geneva pattern. Each of the movements has its own mainspring, regulator and, as it has been mentioned, its own cylinder and comb. As the main-plate, almost all of these components are likewise made from nickel-plated brass. The only exception are the combs which are made of steel alloy and lead (lead is used for bass notes). However, even the combs are joined with vibration plates in brass.
The movements feature two functions. The first one is used to start or stop the melody, while the other one is used so one could choose whether to repeat the score or move along to the next one. To play the selected melody, (each of the songs lasts for exactly 36 seconds) a cylinder makes a single full revolution. It should also be noted that both of the included barrels which correspond to one of the cylinders are in accordance with the general theme made of nickel-plated brass. The twin structure of the entire piece stands behind the fact that they both store the same amount of power reserve which keeps the music playing for 15 minutes.
A Futuristic Soundboard with a Classical Soul
This is far from the complete story about the functioning of MusicMachine2. To make the sound with such distinguished properties as the ones featured in the product was even trickier than making the mechanical movements that are used to reproduce the melody. The secret behind the rich sound with an opulence of timbre lays in the construction of the soundboard of MusicMachine2. Its functioning is based on an invention made by a luthier Jeanmichel Capt (who despite certain similarities in name does not have anything in common with the fictional Captain Jean-Luc Picard from the Star Trek). The Capt’s construction of a soundboard which combines classic and modern procedures is heavily responsible for the supreme qualities of the music box. The modern part of the construction is the inclusion of the central part made of Nomex material which is actually a honey-comb structured variation of Kevlar. The classic knowledge in the creation of musical instruments is on the other hand represented with the use of spruce tree that wraps Nomex around from two sides like a sandwich and glues in a traditional style with resin.
Only One in 10,000 Ancient Trees from the Specific Swiss Forest Can be Used
However, the specific wood used in the construction is actually one of the most important and amazing pieces in the puzzle. The specific timber originates from the Swiss Riboud Forest which has a particular climate with harsh winters and with soil of limited fertility. The surroundings dictate that the growth of trees is very slow and gradual which makes the structure of the wood very dense. This, on the other hand, makes it best suited for the creation of instruments.
Furthermore, even the climate is not enough and only a handful of trees meets the necessary criteria. Just a single one in 10,000, to be precise. The method for selecting the adequate pieces gives the entire product a strong doze of charm and soul. It is performed by the expert, Lorenzo Pellegrini, who, despite his old age (he is well into his seventies), still climbs the spruces to check their properties. After the specific trunk is selected, the tree is cut. However, it needs to be done only in November when there is the least amount of resin. After that, it is dried between five to ten years before it is actually treated with varnish and subsequently used in the construction.
As it has been mentioned, the soundboard actually has a sandwich structure with two wooden elements, which is a trick used to produce a louder sound without making the dimensions of the resonating box bigger, as it is commonly so.
Aluminum Tail Boom
The final element in the construction of MusicMachnie 2 is the part which connects a soundboard to the movement (of which the latter in this instance takes over the role of strings of an instrument. In this stage, the expertise of Reuge was crucial. Reuge is a company with the 150-year-long reputation of a pioneer in the construction of music boxes. Together with JMC Lutherie, they designed a specific tail boom made of aluminum which is known for its supreme sound conducting characteristics. In joint efforts, the boom was placed on the appropriate part of carbon on one side and the specific parts of the movements where the majority of the sound is emitted and where the combs are positioned with the means of heat-blued screws. This way, the tail boom takes over the role of a bridge in a classic string instrument which transfers the vibrations, while the notable vent holes on the dome step in to release the sound out from the soundboard (the same role performed by openings on a guitar or a violin).
All of the explained traits combined attribute to the supremely complex and futuristically designed musical box – an object that despite its appearance and technical superiority is more of a thing of the past. However, it is clear that the item with so many unique properties will be some sort of a holy grail to the aficionados of music boxes, rock music and sci-fi. MB&F MusicMachine 2 is available in two versions with different lacquer finishes on the steel dome part. The first one is the serial number AXA 72.5875.000 in black color which is made in 66 pieces is total. It is twice as numerous as the other limited edition model with the reference number AXA 72.5875.001 whose white lacquer is resistant to UV radiation. Each of the versions is sold with the price tag of $21,500.