Ai Yamamoto – Pan De Sonic – Iso (Someone Good/ Room40)


Melbourne based ambient electronic artist Ai Yamamoto was locked down this year on two separate occasions as part of Melbourne’s response to rising COVID-19 numbers. She used that time to record elements of her daily life, everything from alarm clocks to cutting fruit to the sound of gas to trampolines. She’s assembled these random elements, some of which have been processed, some untouched into this really beautiful, quite fascinating sonic diary.

It’s a really unique amalgam of field recordings and musicality and it’s gentle immersive and beautiful as all of Yamamoto’s work. There is something quite subtle and restrained about the way she approaches her work. It never fails to be affecting. This is different however, there’s a mundanity to her source material, no doubt she hears it every day. And she’s not trying to cloak it in anything else. It’s the point of this album. Freed from external stimulation she found music within the everyday.

There’s some really clever percussive arrangements on her second piece ‘Start of The Day’ where all manner of bangs, clanks and a child playing are assembled into a repetitive kitchen stomp. It’s beautiful and impossible not to smile while listening to it. Despite her yen for percussion – elements of which appear throughout the album, she also has a keen ear for texture. Weirdly enough her approach is vaguely reminiscent of Matthew Herbert’s Plat Du Jour work, where he used politically minded field recordings to create electronic music.

Yamamoto says this project stopped her from going crazy during lockdown, but Pan De Sonic isn’t cathartic, it’s intensely creative. It’s finding music, finding interesting texture in the everyday. Her arrangements and assemblages are inspired, frequently humorous and provide a unique insight into her domestic world.

Many artists look back on their work and all they can hear is a moment in time. Neil Young only just released his 1974 album Homegrown last year, as all the emotions associated with it had finally subsided. Pan De Sonic is so literal, I wonder how Yamamoto will feel about this album coming years few will feel as ‘moment in time’ as this album. For the rest of us Pan De Sonic is an inspiration, a reminder that music is everywhere, sometimes in the most unlikeliest of places. All you have to do is open your ears.


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Bob is the features editor of Cyclic Defrost. He is also evil. You should not trust the opinions of evil people.