City of Impressions

Danny Howells paints a picture of Miami with Global Underground

Any city whose very existence captures the public imagination becomes an elusive, flickering ideal. Miami has proved to be an especially potent muse, a mirage viewed as an oasis of paparazzi and celebrities, a Latin paradise, a haven of illicit and criminal behavior, and a concrete proving ground for immigrants and poor people of color, among many other things.

As a globetrotting DJ from Hastings, UK, Danny Howells hasn't seen much of Miami beyond a handful of days he has spent here spinning records at nightclubs. Still, he creates a vision of it through his new CD, Global Underground: Miami, which is as expansive as the images described above.

Global Underground is a mix CD series dedicated to the club scenes of the world's major cities. Contrary to widespread belief, they aren't live sets, but studio compilations. "The general thing is, you have a city, you do a night there, then you sort of base your compilation around that," says Howells. The first entry was a "Tel Aviv" mix recorded by the late British DJ Tony De Vit in 1996; Deep Dish, James Lavelle, Sasha, and a handful of other top DJs have participated in the series. The series has proved so popular that it has spawned several spin-offs, including Global Underground: Afterhours and Global Underground: Nubreed.

The 27th edition of Global Underground: Miami, which is scheduled for release March 29, was recorded after Danny Howells's appearance at Space last October 31 during Howellwink, a Halloween party with Philadelphia tech-house producer Josh Wink. Using that performance as a blueprint, Howells (who recorded Global Underground: Nubreed 002 in 2000) then made a two-disc set. "I think 75 or 80 percent of the tracks were played that night," he says.

Miami has pockets of support for both trance and lounge, but its dominant nightlife sound has always been deep, dark, and percussive, whether it's electro and freestyle, progressive and tribal house, or Southern hip-hop and bass music. Unfortunately Howells doesn't really spin those styles of music. His sound is more airy and whimsical, encompassing the lighter sides of breakbeat, trance, and house. As a result, Global Underground: Miami is an artistic creation that doesn't resemble Miami at all.

"I think Miami is a city that has a particular sound. It's not a sound I really play. Therefore, when I did this album, it was a challenge for me to create my interpretation of Miami," says Howells. Which makes sense: As much as Howells professes to like the place, he doesn't live here.

 
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