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David Bridie
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Act of Free Choice (EMI)
The Big Chill

Moody grooves and campfire yarns from an Australian original. Whether fronting Not Drowning, Waving and My Friend the Chocolate Cake, or banging out soundtracks, David Bridie's always been an explorer, opting for the musical road less travelled. So much so that on this, his first proper solo album, Bridie has morphed into an impossibly cool Harry Butler, as he merges slithery grooves with tall tales from Australia's most remote points. The evocative opener, "The Koran, the Ghan and A Yarn", is set in Marree, a flyspeck 100 miles from nowhere. "Kerosene" wanders even further, "out west of Alice Springs", while "Last Great Magician" tells the story of an elder's death in the Trobriand Islands. Bridie's connectedness with Australia's mystical heart is commendable, no question, yet Act of Free Choice is more than a geography lesson. Produced by Ian Caple, the album bristles with the type of moody blue textures he brought to long-players from Tricky and Tindersticks, falling just the right side of mellow. Frequently dark, often downright spooky - and top-heavy with weird FX, cryptic noises and a haunting sense of space - Act of Free Choice is an album to get lost in.

**** Jeff Apter
Rolling Stone Review