Album of the Day: Turning Jewels Into Water, “Map of Absences”

On Map of Absences, Turning Jewels Into Water perfectly marries the cultural background of its two members—percussionist Val Jeanty is of Haitian descent, while drummer/producer Ravish Momin is Indian—to the aqueous sound of electronic music. The result is a sound that feels deeply rooted in tradition, but adapted for a generation of people who care as much about their roots as they do innovation.

Map of Absences is rooted in the sound of African Traditional Religions like voodoo, hoodoo, and Ifa, where the drum is often used as a healing tool, central to meditation, worship, and gathering. The album’s 11 songs are heavily percussive, built from live instrumentation as well as electronic sounds and turntables. “Talang” works an idiosyncratic groove, with clipped vocal samples, video-gamey synths, and echoing drum patterns that alternate between layered, frenetic, and measured. The driving “Cave Rain Drumming in My Ear” builds its hyperactive rhythm from digital drums and pinprick vocal samples. And on the title track, the duo seems to be creating a drum circle for the digital age, opening with a ricocheting rhythm and gradually layering in synths and digital effects. 

Map of Absences works because of the seamless synergy between Valjean and Momin. The album transverses the respective cultural influences of the duo, and takes the listener along for the ride.

-Shanice Brim

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