Drowned in Meaning is a lot like Coldcut’s late eighties single “Beats + Pieces”: intricate on a technical level, but often exhausting due to the sheer multitude of samples. Realistic, the musical project of James Towning, excels at blending in together samples one wouldn’t think could occupy the same song. The highlight of the record, “Moment of Realization”, effectively samples the vocal part of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” amidst a cloud of synths and flickers of glitchy noise. Towning is at his best in moments like these; he oscillates between the complex tracks like those and the (comparatively) simple ones, like the disco-tinged lead single “Token Gestures”. By the end of the album’s 16 tracks, it’s a wonder how Towning amassed all of the music he did; this is a diverse collage of a record. And while his skill is to be admired, the myriad samples of Drowned in Meaning in a way undercut it. Given a lack of conceptual unity to the music, the album plays like a sample extravaganza; when listening to a song later in the album, it’s easy to forget the earlier tracks due to all that’s going on. For that reason, Drowned in Meaning is both successful and a victim to its success.
- Album stream SoundCloud
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.READ the article