[a]Presence[/a] kingpin [B]Charles Webster[/B] has been in the beats business for almost 20 years, and it shows, since every slick percussion click and synth moan seems to reflect a man bored with

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London Camden Monarch

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London Camden Monarch

Don’t sweat, don’t jig around too much, don’t raise your hands in the air. Definitely don’t get ‘on one’. This is [a]Presence[/a], you see, who are polished and spiritual. A funky beat is acknowledged with eyes shut, maybe with a sly nod, definitely with no more than an inoffensive shuffle. This is house music, but not that you’d notice.

[a]Presence[/a] kingpin Charles Webster has been in the beats business for almost 20 years, and it shows, since every slick percussion click and synth moan seems to reflect a man bored with this sound, but too set in his ways to innovate. Debut album ‘All Systems Gone’ is given a certain sultry sheen by the emotive vocals supplied by ‘Mezzanine’ extra Sarah Jay, Finley Quaye accomplice Steve Edwards, and Shara Nelson.

But Shara‘s absent tonight, and it’s obvious that only her charisma could provide an adequate focus for this far too tasteful performance. Sarah takes over for ‘Sense Of Danger’ but so lacks Shara‘s raw verve that the track’s M People dynamics are suddenly apparent. Only ‘Your Spirit’ leaves the heart quivering and suggests that this project is more than a hyped hook-up of dance sophisticates.

It’s also the one moment when Webster moves away from the 4/4 pulse and dallies with some compelling Massive Attack rumble. In the future, it’s best he sticks to what he doesn’t know.