By Bruce Elder
"Not Drowning Waving are no more," says Helen Mountford, the classically trained cellist who has been an integral part of both Not Drowning Waving and the ARIA award-winning My Friend the Chocolate Cake. "David Bridie [keyboard player and main songwriter with both bands] and I still get quite sentimental about some of the albums, but we've moved on. It simply died."
So My Friend the Chocolate Cake, which started as a casual project, is now the main creative outlet for both musicians. Up to now the group has been a vehicle for David Bridie's particular vision of Australian suburbia. When they played at Paddington RSL a year ago, they decked out the stage like a suburban lounge room - complete with a venetian blind and a Hank Williams record sleeve.
Their unusual sound - the combination of cello, violin, keyboards, acoustic guitar, percussion and mandolin - was a perfect vehicle for Bridie's celebration of the simple beauty of a dream-like suburbia remembered and filtered through the innocent joys of childhood.
Chocolate Cake are an unusual concept. Some of the members are "amateur" musicians who have been drawn into the Bridie-Mountfort creative web. Some have regular jobs and have to find time to tour and record. In this sense it is still, much to the chagrin of their increasing band of fans, an irregular project.
Now, a little over a year since the group released and toured with their last album, Brood, they are on the move again. "We're starting a new record in December," Mountfort explains. "We're working on arrangements at the moment so this tour will be good for us because it will allow us to try out the arrangements. Our idea is to come straight back from the tour and go into the studio."
While Mountfort insists that the new material "certainly sounds like Chocolate Cake", she believes there has been "a major shift in David's song-writing".
"He's writing much more personal songs at the moment. There are even some love songs in there," she says.
Such changes will have little impact on the band's fans, who know that Chocolate Cake have carved a unique place for themselves on the Australian musical landscape with their limpid, dreamy music which is accessible, warm and highly original.
My Friend The Chocolate Cake play at The Metro tonight and Saturday.
The Sydney Morning Herald
November 17 1995