London producer’s debut twists and refines dance tropes of the past.
David Stubbs 2011
How far we've come, together in electric dreams of the past. The debut album by London-based producer James Connolly, aka L-Vis 1990, is steeped in nostalgia for a neo-disco era that was itself post-modern and retrospective. It's a homage to the likes of Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx among others –acts that, back in the 1990s, took the acid and funky tropes of 80s and 70s music and fondly refashioned them into something at once reverential/referential and contemporary. Now, they themselves have been refashioned, paid homage to, by L-Vis 1990. And so the music progresses, is handed down, refined and modified, twisted into new balloon shapes.
Like many of his peers in the digital era, Connolly has chosen to eschew cold, state of the art technology in favour of the warmer, analogue hardware of yesteryear – classic synthesizers and Roland TR-707 drum machines. But there's a fine line between retro and retrograde, which Connolly neatly avoids stepping over. Forever You, the 2010 single featured here in abbreviated form with Javeon McCarthy guesting on vocals, reminds faintly of The Aloof and lives up to the cinematic, luminous implications of the album title. The Beach is linear, seductive and evocative, its synths star-bursting like a series of memory flashes. I Feel It and Lost in Love recall the eruption of French blue-eyed soul in the 1990s, the likes of Phoenix and Cassius (who Connolly recently remixed); while Cruisin' is all Moog-y, low bass riding across a squelching, acidic bubblescape.
Elsewhere, Feel the Void, featuring Para One and Teki Latex, is an affectionate revisiting of some of electropop's po-faced, sombre tendencies (key line: "let the darkness take control"), while Tonight is twice-refried electro-funk, with Samantha Lim providing vocals as seductive and self-possessed as Neneh Cherry’s on Buffalo Stance. One More Day, again featuring McCarthy, is epic and vocoder-soaked, like reflections on a train journey home in the remaining light of a long summer's day, when the shadows are longest and the feelings most vivid. That's where we're at with Neon Dreams.