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Act of Free Choice: CD review
Reviewed by Ben Haynes

Some big, famous, wealthy rock star once said that no one under the age of 25 should be allowed to record an album cos they don't have enough life experience to be able to carry it off.

Taking into account that David Bridie has 15 years of experience in the music business, making movie soundtracks and playing in some of Australia's top bands (which we never hear about), we can presume that he's over 25. He's waited a long time to make this record and perhaps that's a good thing.

It doesn't sound like a naïve debut but more of a mellow outpouring from man at last unrestrained.

The first two tracks have the cinematic, ambient quality that I've not heard since James released their landmark 1993 album 'Laid'. It's a rich, layered sound that benefits from lonely pianos that sound like they were recorded in a massive, empty hall and subtle drum loops and samples; technology that doesn't dominate but enhances the music.

The songs themselves have a cinematic, scenic quality. The intro to 'Breath', for example, begins like a soundtrack and blossoms into what sounds like a companion piece to Massive Attack's 'Teardrop'.

Hauntingly brilliant yet deceptively simple is 'The Deserters'. Just Bridie's voice and a 70-piece orchestra, it's a classic and beautiful piece of music that could easily have lead to a clichéd climax with cymbals clashing and trumpets fanfaring, but instead it holds itself back and fizzles out with dignity, quitting while it's still ahead.

By contrast, 'Sad' is a bit dull and the loop that begins the song starts to become a little irritating after a while. 'Talk Mister Nation' is more like it, moody and atmospheric with jazz overtones. The children's voices - that can only be heard through headphones - are very slightly eerie.

If you want that blue, late-night mood, then this is the stuff. There are no hit singles, no catchiness (save for the near-epic quality of 'Kerosene'), yet you might find the songs subliminally arriving in your head by a strange osmosis.

ARTIST: David Bridie
RECORD LABEL: Chrysalis
GENRE: easy-listening
RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2001
OFFICIAL SITE: www.davidbridie.com.au

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