TURNING JEWELS INTO WATER BY USING A WORLD OF BEATS
By Piotr Orlov
January 28, 2019
The tag-line that Turning Jewels Into Water, Val Jeanty and Ravish Momin, operates under is “The Intersection of Ritual, Improvisation and Global Rhythms.” Which is a damn-great summary of work by two artists whose collective subconscious is steeped in a sonic haze of ethnography, technology and the almighty beats (or The Almighty’s beats), as they try to make sense of a future through disparate, often-overlapping practices. And like much of the Brooklyn-based duo’s debut album, Map of Absences, its first drop, “Dark waters rushing in,” unites the beat-wise languages of the Black Atlantic and the South Asian subcontinent inside the shared hard-drive of studious art-schoolers, daring the thoughtful listener with what can fairly be called a new normal, not to giving a shit about colonialist norms.
Both are graduate students in, and fluent practitioners of an open-armed, pan-global musical avant-garde whose fingerprints are all over contemporary culture. The Haiti-born Jeanty self-defines as “Afro-Electronica” artist, incorporating her homeland’s rhythmic traditions by combining acoustics with electronics, the archaic with the post-modern; and has performed with jazz giants Geri Allen and Anthony Braxton, and the great jazz-rock fusionists, Harriet Tubman, among others. Indian-born Momin is a New York-based veteran percussionist and composer, who studied with AACM jazz legend Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, has played with Shakira, and leads the jazz/electronic group, Tarana. That they met during a residency program in the music-heavy Brooklyn art-space/-gallery, Pioneer Works — which should come as no surprise.
“Dark waters rushing in” is the sound of all these past-times and influences, as manifested through spare electronics. Dub-heavy with the bass settings stuck on “overwhelming,” TJIW’s track is also streaming with rhythmic ideas, mirroring a wide variety of local, next-generation beats-makers all over the world: Chicago footwork, Durban’s Gqom, Lisbon and Luanda’s post-kuduro and -kizomba fusions, and BK’s own flex productions — all find a space in the duo’s hard-drive, with Jeanty’s scratches and Momin’s drones adding layers to the organized chaos. Like Turning Jewels Into Water’s tag-line implies, theirs is at the Intersection of many worlds — which just happens to be a space that more and more of us increasingly occupy.