OK. First things first, the beauty of music is that it creates and divides opinion.
I have followed dance since the early days, and have in my CD collection over 600 CDs from the likes of Digweed, Sasha, Nick Warren, Oakenfold, Steve Lawler. I have all the Balance CDs, all the Global Undergrounds, have all the Northern Exposures/Communicates etc. Point is I feel I have a position in which to gauge the overall standard of this mix.
Also worth noting that I have seen the man himself on a number of occasions, and I concur with others his energy, passion and knowledge are unquestionable.
To the mix itself. Personally I prefer the more progressive, deep side of house. I am not a fan at all of the minimalist electro sound that has graced much of the mix releases in the past few years. I am more Nick Warren and Hernan Cattaneo's latest Renaissance (uplifting progressive as well as the down tempo mixes on both discs).
Having listened to the Howells mix 3 times now, I have to say other than maybe one or two tracks on CD 2 I am left pretty underwhelmed. I too was looking forward to this with eager anticipation, however I find the mixes lacked any energy, depth, passion, substance. It all felt a little to over complicated and over thought.
Anyone liking this to Northern Exposure and the like is well off the mark. The first CD ambles along from electro to down beat house and minimalist house, and like most complilations these days I had this as the more chilled out mixes that accompany many double disk compilations.
Moving onto disc 2 I anticipated more energy, more substance, but frankly it was more of the same. It does begin to get going towards the end of disc 2, however by that stage after 2 hours of "build up" the set is over before it got going.
If you are reading this and are more into this sound than mine, I would suggest listening to Henry Saiz's efforts to get a good benchmark of the possibilities.
Personally, when I compare this to other Balance releases, such as Nick Warren's Nic Fancuilli's I find Danny's release as pale in comparison, which is a real real shame, as I have a massive amount of time for his DJ ing.