Turning Jewels into Water Decentre Shallow Understandings of "World" Music with 'Our Reflection Adorned by Newly Formed Stars'

BY Angela MorrisonPublished Aug 21, 2020

Turning Jewels into Water, the collaborative project between electronic musicians Val Jeanty and Ravish Momin, are a brilliant demonstration of music built upon deeply felt nonverbal communication that defies any simple genre categorizations. Their newest full-length album, Our Reflection Adorned by Newly Formed Stars, is a testament to the strength of the project that began in 2017, when the two artists participated in an improvisatory jam session together and discovered rich collaborative potential in their combined musical talents. The album features additional contributions from Iranian musician Kamyar Arsani and South African instrumentalist Mpho Molikeng, further emphasizing the project's commitment to collective creation and a sense of globality.

Turning Jewels into Water actively decentre shallow, Westernized understandings of "world" music, and draw upon Jeanty and Momin's personal experiences and intimate cultural knowledge to build layered electronic dreamscapes. Haitian-born Jeanty evokes the deep spiritual traditions of Vodou, while Momin reimagines Indian folk music and jazz, and magic emerges as the music swirls, skips, undulates and crashes like ocean waves. As the album's press release states, the hypnotic, spaced-out, bass-heavy sound on tracks such as "Flower in Flames" is inspired by South African gqom musicians such as DJ Lag and the looping darkness of New York illbient artists such as We™.

The album maintains a balance between darkness and light, frantic movement and meditative stillness, rejecting such binaristic divisions in favour of complexity, transformation and non-linear thinking. Tracks such as "Swirl in the Waters" and "Whispers Under Dal Lake" loop and rework whispered words and vocalizations, drawing out the emotive and musical qualities of human voices, while "Crushed Petals and Stones Fall on My Drum" lovingly ties the act of making music to respect for and connection with nature and the environment. Our Reflection ends with two remixes, one by Laughing Ears for "Crushed Petals," and one by EMB for "Flower in Flames." The songs are slowed down, stretched out and subtly reimagined, encapsulating Turning Jewels into Water's overall commitment to constant growth and new perspectives.

Our Reflection Adorned by Newly Formed Stars, much like 2019's Maps of Absences, emphasizes the importance of thinking globally, seeing beyond narrow-minded nationalisms toward cross-cultural connections built upon genuine respect and solidarity rather than shallow fetishization and simplification. This is music tapped into the potential to transform the present by bridging past traditions to unknown futures.
(FPE Records)

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