Charles Webster, renewed sweetness

House, youthful music and excited as a flea, was from its arrival in Chicago in the first half of the 80s inseparable from its adult counterpart, pensive and peaceful. A logical emanation rather than an invention – though nothing says it could have been born without the pioneering tracks of Marshall Jefferson and Larry Heard – deep house, as it is called, immediately sparked its own scene and vocations in aesthetes from all over the world, whether they come from jazz, hip-hop or techno. The Briton Charles Webster, born in 1965 and gone through breakdance, with the Rock City Crew of Sheffield, then the sound engineer box before embarking on his first compositions, is one of them. All his work since the end of the 80s (dozens of maxis on a thousand labels all around the world, under very diverse pseudonyms) repeats in a loop the frozen love for beautiful sounds, subtle evolutions and a certain state of chosen lethargy. . Also, the expression “masterpiece”, in the artisanal sense at least, has been used more than once for his albums, rare in every sense of the word, first for his best known, All Systems Gone, released in 1999 under the name of Presence and which Didier Lestrade described in Libé of “Most beautiful deep house album in years”.

For one reason or another, however, Charles Webster disappeared from radar in the early 2000s; But Decision Time, comeback album which appears this winter, sounds so polished in every second and refined in its compositions, that we would not be surprised if the Englishman got down to work on his songs the day after the release of the magnificent Born on the 24th of July, in 2001. It is only a house record by association of ideas, moreover. Rather slow, stripped of any beat that beats up and filtered manically with each of its layers of electric piano or voice, it is rather an avatar of soul severely worked by modernity, but a modernity other than that which dominates the various schools of the r’n’b for two decades, whose invention goes first through such rich materials, which would result for example from the very fleeting moment of grace that characterized the beginnings of English trip-hop, when it was futuristic and soulful, precisely. Moreover, a voice present, oh how much, on the album brings us back to one of the masterpieces: Shara Nelson, who lived inUnfinished Sympathy of Massive Attack in 1991, and which brings the sublime This Is Real in emotional and lascivious heights rare in this kind of electronic music. But Charles Webster is not a producer like the others, he never was, and the record of his resurrection is a very beautiful anomaly, without attachment or almost, which we bet without getting too wet that it will spread its beauties in the coming months like gold dust in the possibly reconfigured homes.

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Olivier Lamm

Charles Webster Decision Time (Dimension Recordings).


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