L-Vis 1990 - Neon Dreams Album Review
Maybe it's a bit early for a changing of the guard at the the top of the club music empire, but with the kings of the late noughties ouevre now off in different directions (As in the case of Justice, creating a rock opera on new release Audio, Video, Disco which threatens to fuse vertebrae worldwide), but Londoner James Connolly - aka Lvis 1990 - is in as good a position to pick up the gauntlet as any. Club promoter, DJ, producer and remixer he's certainly proof of the post-music industry work ethic required to actually make a living in the won't pay/won't pay era, and as Neon Dreams prove, as an artist he's got sufficient smarts to ultimately seize any initiative going.
Not of course that DJ's with a sideline as legit artists are anything unusual these days, but Connolly reveals more substance than just decks and a laptop, both in his vision of creating a stable of likeminded collaborators - in the past tense it would've been call a scene - but also in the diversity of his musical output. His horizons are a broad church, and it should be a rare full one, although mostly Neon dreams draws heavily from the past, specifically from the piano lines, lustrous, ecstasy borne synth lines and bass thump of the late 90's and early 80's, sounding sophisticated but accessible.
Bookended by blissed out spoken words pieces that scan like astral poetry, what's sandwiched in between rides the line between highwire and low brow - Tonight for example giving the impression of Bananarama reimagined as pop-house divas - whilst the overwhelming influence of dubstep is only present in tangential slivers, as with the thumping sub-bass that's wriggles like a snake on Crusin'. It's good to hear that plain old dirty sex is alive too in the BIM era; The Beach throbs with it, a floor banging, wanton son or daughter of Lil' Louis porn theme tune French Kiss, whilst on Play It Cool we're back on contemporary message dominatrix style, as guest vox Samantha Lim adds a mid-european sat nav androgny to the party.
It would be misleading to suggest that Connolly's world is all about the disconnected, smouldering fabric of 21st century relationships however. Mostly the retro insrument layer recreates the fug of 20th century naivette, an old, long forgotten epoch before the grimness of global markets and falling towers. From this glossy past comes the vocoder friendly One More Day, whilst Lost In Love is more laid back still, channelling the lush sophistication of deep house into something with modern nights out relevance. You sense however that this identity might be short-lived for Connolly, given the range of choices which must now present themselves. The King of course is not deceased, and his deck-totoing re-incarnation will be hitting a venue near you soon.
Opening and closing with spoken word pieces that give it the air of a pseudo concept album, Connolly's use of vintage equipment roots much of the content in an early 90's milieu, either on The Beach, which has echoes of Lil' Louis French Kiss, or via the androgynous soma-diva intonations of Samantha Lim on the lustrous Play It Cool. Echoes of the acid era's heyday aren't the only dish of choice however, as other tasty morsels come via some inspired moments of retro-future pop, most notably on the Tonight - on which Lim does a consummate impression of a reconstructed Bananarama - the vocoder friendly sheen of One More Day, and Lost In Love, which successfully mines the soulful deep house reproduced faithfully on New York's cherished Naked Label.