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Not Drowning Waving
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Beat Magazine CD Review

[ Not Drowning Waving - Through The One Last Door ]

From early on, David Bridie and his cohorts included a Cause in their music. This was a sense of justice, particularly that relevant to Papuan New Guinean and other indigenous cultures. This cross-cultural affinity underpins most of Through The One Last Door. Over the course of two CDs, the Not Drowning Waving repertoire is elegantly and intelligently presented. From quasi-cultural piano pieces to the soft tonal patterns and precise use of timbre and rhythm, it is all here.

Sensibly divided into the Instrumental and Song sides, the listener can really pick up on the nuances Not Drowning Waving aspired to in those two forms. It must be noted that this package relies heavily on latter-day material, particularly the Claim and Tabaran recordings. Their earliest work is only briefly hinted at via The Cheshire Cat and Dare Not Say A Word.

Relying on multi-media and technology as well as traditional tribal sounds, Not Drowning Waving created a unique blend of the old and the new. Ground breaking in an Australian context, one would do well to listen to Brian Eno and David Byrne's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. Avoiding standard rock structures, Not Drowning Waving referenced a wider notion of groove and texture. Listen to the compact, aggressive sound of Sweat with its distorted guitar, fragmented keyboard and full sound and compare with the evocative soundscape of Call Across The Highlands or Maroon Rust. Yes Sir I Can Boogie, is their most famous and biting comment against the typecast image of moderate outsiders they had developed, for being too clean.

The Songs component is equally daring and diverse as it departs from the conventional pop song structure of verse/chorus/verse to shed light on the lyrical observations contained within. It becomes easy to trek the considerable variation applied to the subject matter and approach as you listen to the 15 songs. Bridie's oft breathy vocals bind the various social experiences derived from various settings.

Much of Bridie's subsequent work is underscored by themes explored in songs like Crazy Birds, The Kiap Song, Marriage Is A Mess and Blackwater. Willow Tree Yard is the most conventional pop moment, Crazy Birds the Not Drowning Waving choir moment, Blackwater the political comment. Elsewhere, sees Bridie delivering evocative lyrics which indicate an attachment to place mythology.

Through The One Last Door is a gem of a record which gives a feel of this under-rated but influential band. Not Drowning Waving did however rely heavily on visual images to accompany their music. Now that's an idea! A DVD perhaps?

Bronius Zumeris

Beat Magazine
Issue: 952
Date: March 9, 2005