CD Review: Act of Free Choice
Artist: David Bridie
Rating: 4 1/2 (of 5)
David Bridie is well known to connoisseurs of the contemporary Aussie music scene through his association with the ground-breaking band Not Drowning Waving, the equally innovative My Friend the Chocolate Cake and his work with PNG singer George Telek (notably the Tabaran album). Act Of Free Choice, hopefully, will earn him the broader recognition that his talent and tenacity so richly deserves. With the assistance of some studio wizardry from UK producer Ian Caple, who is best known for his work with Tricky, Bridie has created an album of breathtaking beauty and ambivalence - one which is electronic yet organic, ambient yet dynamic, personal yet universal, ethereal yet evocative. Act of Free Choice can be mentioned in the same breath as Brian Eno & David Byrne’s 1981 masterpiece My Life In The Bush of Ghosts, the album which set the benchmark for synthesis of sound and song. It’s that good!
Multi-layered but never cluttered, its tracks segue effortlessly from one to another, offering cinematic continuity and imagery - no accident perhaps given the artist’s recent movie work. Bridie’s soundtrack for In A Savage Land earned an AFI Award last year, and samples of conch shells and other tropical ambiences - recorded on the Trobriand Islands - fit hand in glove with the musician’s wistful vocalising, tinkling piano, poetic lyrics, the oboe, a string section (led by Bridie’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ cohorts Helen Mountfort and Hope Csutoros) and the electronic pulse generated by modern beat machines.