Now into his second decade as a true innovator in the electronic music scene, Charles Webster is one of the few real mould-breakers in an increasingly stale & predictable dance music world (though whether a man whose favourite artist is Rickie Lee Jones, and whose records ooze such soul and depth should really ever be pigeonholed as dance is another debate).
Charles has sold over 100,000 albums without ever being considered 'mainstream' or having a major hit single …he has toured the world with a full (genuinely) live band …he has also dj'ed worldwide, playing regularly in every continent, without ever having had the need to be feted by the dance media as a flavour of the month …he had the nous to have been running his own labels for years, frequently laying them to rest before they get tired and switching to other projects…he is comfortable making music at any tempo, straddles numerous genres (both real and imagined) with ease…bloody hell, he even writes songs.
See what we mean about mould-breaking ?
2002 has seen worldwide acclaim and success for his first album under his own name, "Born On The 24th July" (Peacefrog). Perhaps the closest thing yet to a full depiction of Charles musical vision, it is a deep yet uplifting, soulful, diverse collection – and makes for a truly coherent album, rather than a patchwork of club tracks and fillers. It is the other side of the coin to the equally acclaimed, hugely successful "All Systems Gone" album, released by the Webster-masterminded Presence project in 1999 (Pagan). This release took the often staid world of so-called deep house into new stratospheres, won album of the month plaudits in pretty much every publication that reviewed it worldwide (even scoring an unprecedented 11 out of 10 in one mag), and gave the world the classic single "Sense of Danger", featuring Shara Nelson.
Shara is one of many quality vocalists to have benefitted from working with Charles. Terra Deva (currently one of dance music…most in-demand voices, most recently heard on Shakedown's "At Night") got her first break via a collaboration with Charles on the cult classic "Soothe" by Furry Phreaks. Terra also features on "Ready", a standout track from this year's "Born…" release. Other notable singers in Websterworld include Sara Jay and Steve Edwards, both of whom played a starring role in Presence's 1999-2000 live tour, feature on "Born…", and continue to work with Charles on new Presence material, and for his latest label project Miso (picking up where his legendary Love From San Francisco and Remote imprints left off).
And that's just the recent past…before all this came Sine, Megatonk, Square Dance studio, Charles has earned his spurs, and, to paraphrase James Brown, continues to be one of the hardest working men in showbusiness (though perhaps a shade more unassuming than the Godfather).
With a deal agreed for a follow up solo album on Peacefrog, Presence demos being recorded, a batch of releases lined up for Miso, and not forgetting regular remix forays and global djing, you'll continue to hear a lot more from Matlock's finest export. The quality control knob will, as ever, be turned up to 11.