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David Bridie
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DAVID BRIDIE
ACT I, PART II


A renaissance man, of sorts, David Bridie is one of Australia’s more gifted composers. As a pianist and vocalist, he’s worked hard for a decade-and-a-half underscoring both Not Drowning Waving and My Friend Chocolate Cake. His debut platter Act Of Free Choice carries a rare minimalist beauty as its own hallmark.

We should also mention that, with a damp tennis ball in his hand, Bridie bowls a mean outswinger. Maybe that’s what really gives him that man for all season’s stamp.

Ensconced at a small table in the Cosmopolitan Cafe, Bridie was in town last week to lend George Telek a hand. This week, Bridie returns to Brisbane as a solo performer showcasing material from Act Of Free Choice.

It’s Brisbane’s first opportunity to hear music from this remarkable album in a live context. While keen to maintain the original mood and texture of the record, Bridie promises we’ll be enjoying it ‘at a louder and more dynamic level’. It won’t, he promises, be like sitting in your lounge room with a CD.

"Some of it kind of takes me back to the halcyon days of Not Drowning Waving," he offers of the live experience. "I’m enjoying the louder volume on stage. Phil Wales is playing guitar, and there’s a lot of similarities on stage between him and John Phillips. Michael Barker is a fantastic drummer. The samples and sequencers are in there, and there’s been a fair amount of experimentation in rehearsals."

Bridie’s ambitions for the live shows still allow the artist to chance his arm with the relatively unknown.

"We want to get a flow and a control over the music, without being slaves to counting bars," he explains. "I wanted to keep as much of the texture of the record as possible. We’ve done a few warm-up gigs in Melbourne and I was really pleased with them."

Unlike much of the work in his back catalogue, Bridie recorded the material for Act Of Free Choice without the benefit of testing the songs initially before a live audience.

"Live performance is always a very different animal from the recording process," he continues. "Songs do grow. The songs on Act Of Free Choice didn’t need to be played live before we recorded them. Part of the sound of the record is the process by which it was made.

"The Chocolate Cake records, we nearly always played live beforehand. This was never like that. There’s no right and wrong way of doing things. If we hear something in rehearsals that we really like, we keep an open mind and try and follow that path."

Anyone attending Bridie’s Brisbane gig can expect to hear the bulk of the new album, with a couple of surprises thrown in for good measure.

"We’re just pulling one song from the back catalogue. We’re doing ‘Dare Not Say A Word’ from the first Not Drowning Waving record. We’re doing a cover, too, if it gets to an encore, of Wire’s ‘Map Reference’.

After the success of Bridie’s recent soundtrack to Bill Bennett’s In A Savage Land, other offers are in the pipeline. Later in the year, Bridie will again team up with Bennett to work on the soundtrack for a film set in New Orleans. Ideas for Bridie’s next solo album are ambiguous.

"I’m coming up with ideas in a very loose kind of way," he explains. "I haven’t really thought too much about the next record. I’ve no plans to do it in the immediate future. I want to work on this for quite a while.

"For a long time there had been ideas in my head about making this record. The year before I recorded it was the most difficult. I wanted to do something different to what I’d done in the past, and I wanted to grab bits from my past and develop them further. There was that fear that I wasn’t good enough to do something on my own, and I knew I wouldn’t have the support of a band environment. Once it kind of clicked, it was a really enjoyable record to make. I never had a day where there was an anxiety attack that something might be wrong. There was never a bad day. Because of that, I feel things are setting up for the next record now."

David Bridie’s Act Of Free Choice is out now through EMI. Bridie performs at The Tivoli this Thursday June 22.

SEAN SENNETT
http://www.timeoff.com.au/story6.htm