Knock Knock

A glance at [a]Presence[/a] mastermind [B]Charles Webster[/B]'s credentials...and you'd expect [B]'All Systems Gone'[/B] to be a heady house album, all floor-filling anthems and hands-in-the-air eupho

A glance at [a]Presence[/a] mastermind Charles Webster‘s credentials – two decades as a dance producer under such aliases as Furry Phreaks, Sine, Symetrics and Lo:Rise, boss of the Love From San Francisco and Remote groove imprints – and you’d expect ‘All Systems Gone’ to be a heady house album, all floor-filling anthems and hands-in-the-air euphoria.

A surprise, then, to find a collection of subtle, soothing, densely-textured compositions given added gravity by vocal contributions from Shara Nelson (of Massive Attack‘s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ renown), Sarah Jay (who, coincidentally, recently guested on Massive Attack‘s ‘Mezzanine’), and Steve Edwards (Finley Quaye‘s harmonic foil on ‘Even After All’).

Although the underlying effort to create a mainstream crossover album results in a degree of M People burlesque seeping through tracks like opener ‘Futur Love’, this is redeemed by the widescreen ambience of ‘Been 2 Long’ and the sweet soulful purr of Shara Nelson‘s ‘Matter Of Fact’. Even greater revelations, and proof of Webster‘s ambitious desire to make this an album of broad resources and appeal, are the Orbital-esque ‘Favour Nothing’ and ‘Far Far Away’ – a haunting cover of a song originally recorded by American country rockers The BoDeans.

Not so much an ass-liberating soundtrack for a night on the tiles as it is a comforting cocoon of soft sounds for the morning after, ‘All Systems Gone’ unwinds with sleepy grace.