The Ambient Machine – Yuri Suzuki

Created by Yuri Suzuki in partnership with Pentagram Design, and currently available for purchase from E&Y, The Ambient Machine is a 32 toggle switch sequencer with a variety of sounds and music to design your own background ambience.

Due to the global pandemic, we found ourselves spending more time living in a single environment than ever before. This provided us with an opportunity to listen more closely to the ambient sounds around us. Sounds from the environment outside where we live, the noises of our own homes and the echoes of the sounds we make ourselves become our background ambience. White noise can mask unpleasant sounds around us and give us a sense of relief, Natural sounds can provide the feeling of relocating to a new environment, providing a break from the environments we have been confined to, and musical rhythms can provide patterns for us to find stability with. The idea of using sound and music as part of the background environmental noise, instead of highlighting it in the foreground, has a history that began with the works of Erik Satie, and more recently with the ambient music of Brian Eno.

Yuri Suzuki

The device is based on Banana Pi, first prototyped with PureData and then the code was written directly in Python, utilising SuperCollider for audio file processing, controlling content volume, effects and speed control. On the hardware side, two MCP23017 ICs are used via the I2C interface. 32 switches, organised into 8 groups are used to manipulate the music. Yuri composed 8 segments of music. The first row of switches controls the activation or deactivation of each segment, totaling eight switches in that row. The second to fourth rows are for controlling the effects of each music segment, such as reverb, volume increase, and deceleration, thereby enabling users to engage according to their own preferences.

The ‘current edition’ of the device is available for purchase from E&Y for ¥143,000 (approx £760.00/$980.00). Pictured here is the ‘collector edition’.

Project Page | Yuri Suzuki | E&Y (Shop)