Daniel Bell

The Button Down Mind of Daniel Bell

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As the DJ mix CD phenomenon slowly becomes a progressively more lucrative phenomenon, there is an even greater need for records such as this. Rather than laying down the sort of anthem-filled, peak-hour sets so common on mix CDs, Dan Bell drops a mid-tempo set with enough funk to keep the energy level high but enough relaxed tempos to warrant repeated listens at any time of the day. His track selection tends to drift toward the quirkier side of mid-tempo house tracks in the vein of Herbert and some of Bell's more down-tempo material. The mix begins with calm tracks from the esteemed Klang and Playhouse labels before moving into some equally interesting arrangements by, most notably, Herbert and Thomas Brinkmann. This first half of the mix isn't that joyous and isn't that funky but rather a bit odd -- not in a negative way, though -- as these tracks do their best to make house sound fresh by experimenting with funky yet somewhat jarring rhythms. Beginning with Herbert's dub remix of "Das Bisschen Besser," the set moves from questionable weirdness to sheer brilliance. The quirkiness remains, but the final few tracks bring soul and uplifting vibes, along with some welcome vocals. After the album's peak, Nick Holder's "Feeling Sad," Bell begins a slow decline that hits its most eroded moment during Round Four's "Found a Way," before concluding on a feel-good note with Shake's "Detroit State of Mind." This set will probably change your view of Bell -- often associated with hard minimal techno -- and, above all, illustrates exactly how to piece together a funky while at the same time engaging down-tempo mix more likely to induce dancing than yawning.

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