Review, Danny Howells, Choice
The idea driving Azuli’s Choice series is interesting – ask a well-known DJ to compile and mix a collection of the tracks that are their own personal all-time favorites. Danny Howell’s Choice includes two discs of music and a DVD (which I haven’t watched). The set also has a booklet with an essay about Howells and a brief commentary on each track by Howells.
Howells arranged each of the two music discs as a continuous mix. Disc 1 tends toward tracks that he used often in the early stages of his career and because of this, it hangs together pretty well as a dance mix. Disc 2 is where things start to get a little squirrelly. Howells includes tracks that have personal meaning for him outside the club interspersed with the more typical club-oriented tunes. At one point we get one of those spoken/sung, poem/song, loungey/sound effect things from Japan (“Ghosts”) followed by 3.5 mins of the drum break from the live version of Iron Butterfly’s “In a Gadda Da Vida” followed by Howell’s remix of The Temptations “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone”. This sounds like it ought to be a mess but Howells is so good at putting together a mix that he makes it work. The transition from Iron Butterfly to The Temptation is especially sweet. The set ends with a Carly Simon track.
As interesting as the idea behind Choice is, collections like this usually end up sounding like someone else’s mix tape – a collection of tracks that mean a lot to the person who put them together but just sound like a random collection of songs to everyone else. While the nature of the project means Choice will speak more clearly to Howells than you or I, Howells great skill as a sequencer and mixer largely avoids the somebody-else’s-mix-tape problem. As a result, we get a collection of tracks that’s mostly enjoyable, always interesting and unlike any other mix you’re likely to hear.
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