Review: Jiang XiaMeng – Mixing Board, Contact Microphone, Pedals, and Objects with Two Recordings (self-released, May 3)

On Louis Schumacher’s second release as Jiang XiaMeng, he aims to “take onkyo and noise from their usual contexts and place them in the mundane world.” This is accomplished via the duality found on both tracks, each composed of extended field recordings and active improvisations using the components described in the album’s title. The contrast achieved is an interesting one. On “真っ白,” impossibly thin feedback loops and the quiet use of objects form unique harmonies with the sounds of people entering and exiting a library, while “真っホワイト” sees much noisier mixer and pedal manipulation placed atop a recording of a busy road at night. These juxtapositions are odd, to be sure, but also fascinating and pretty. There are subtle similarities to be found here: the opening and closing of the metal door on “真っ白” bears resemblance to the mechanical feedback, and the artificial whooshings of “真っホワイト” are not unlike the distant sound of the cars passing by. It’s an unlikely result that gives the album a charm despite its obstinance, and allows even the most unusual and difficult sounds to have their own beauty.