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David Bridie
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AMBIENT POP

DAVID BRIDIE
ACT OF FREE CHOICE

This is an album of textures and nuances. It’s an album for headphones and quiet rooms because it won’t show itself quickly. At first you won’t notice the treated guitar rippling in the background of DIVE, or the Frippertronic-like scratching in TALK MISTER NATION; you may miss the lonely piano overlaid on the driving drum loop halfway through FLOAT; and you could overlook the bone weariness in the vocals in LAST GREAT MAGICIAN that speaks more directly to the farewell and closure in the song than any lyric.

Yet it is in the small gestures and the colors at the edge of the canvas that David works best. For example, the version of DIVE on Christine Anu’s Bridie-produced album had a more obvious ‘Massive Attack’ sense of rhythmic drive, the ocean in which she sat clearly invigorating. In his interpretation, Bridie strips back the rhythm and deepens the brooding nature of the sea so that when he says “it’s waiting for us to dive right in” you feel more awe or trepidation than exultation.

So yes, Bridie has dabbled in some of these directions before but this is the first time he has let loose the full scope of his interest in sound and rhythm, from the pick and the drive of SALT to the heartbeat of FOUND WANTING. In that it may be closer in spirit to Not Drowning, Waving than the Chamber pop of My Friend The Chocolate Cake but it shares a spiritual bond too with the former Talk Talk singer Mark Holis and Tom Waits.

CHOICE has the close breathing intensity of Holis: the sense that this was recorded centimetres away from the pulse in Bridie’s neck and only marginally further away from you. But like Wait’s, there’s that s
ense of place: sketching in a location without words and imbedding that in the song. You don’t need language to recognize the whistling wind in the desert of The Koran, The Ghan and a Yarn or the space of Australian the haunting tragically beautiful KEROSENE.

From the ornate packaging (which bears a strong resemblance to Mule Variations) to the layered and delicately ordered sounds therein, ACT OF FREE CHOICE bears the marks of a carefully considered and detailed study. It richly rewards your investigation.

BERNARD ZUEL

Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, May 20th, 2000