Daniel Bell: Blip, Blurp, Bleep

Blip, Blurp, Bleep showcases Daniel Bell's prowess at fashioning minimal Berlin techno of the Tresor variety. While living in Detroit during the 90s, he released tracks under his own name and as DBX on labels like Peacefrog and Klang, and now the French label Logistic has collected thirteen of Bell 's strongest tracks onto a single disc. Like other masters of the genre, Bell spins endlessly imaginative variations using the most minimal of means, with the introduction of a flickering hi-hat or bass flange assuming momentous significance when added to the skeletal mix. It's fascinating to witness the skill with which he shapes his sophisticated and often irresistibly funky tracks through the gradual addition and subtraction of elements. “Work That S***!” is a prime example of his style as interest is generated using five elements only: a pounding jackboot beat, burbling keyboards, shimmering ride cymbals, clapping accents, and the repeated title refrain. Even more minimalistic is “Beep,” solely constructed using a rubbery bass line, snare hits, bass drum, and funky hi-hats. A recurring technique is his incorporation of elastically stretched voice samples, as on “Losing Control” and “Baby Judy.” The disjoint between the latter's distorted voice (“Understand that nobody is asking about Baby Judy”) and its bass line, hi-hats, and ping-ping accent makes for an hilarious as well as unsettling effect. Some tracks do noticeably deviate from the techno template. The insectoid sounds of chattering squirrels and crickets on “Squirrel Bait” demonstrate Bell's ability to imaginatively transcend the genre's limitations, and “Rhodes 2” boasts a tech-house style reminiscent of Akufen with its collage of cut-up vocal samples. Blip, Blurp, Bleep serves as a great summative portrait of Bell's work.

December 2003