Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not Drowning, Waving - Claim

thanks to cob

Not Drowning, Waving were a musical group formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 (though they first performed as a group in 1984) by David Bridie and John Phillips. Their music combined elements of rock, ambient music and world music; their lyrics dealt with characteristically Australian topic: word-pictures of landscapes and people, the seasons, and some political issues (such as Indonesia's invasion of East Timor). Their name is derived from Stevie Smith's poem "Not Waving but Drowning". This is their 1998 release ‘Claim’.

In cavernous beer barns across Australia, sweat and smoke condensed on ceilings and rained down on t-shirted blokes, crushed like fish in cans, desperately shielding foamy glasses from stray elbows. In front of them, bands flailed away at four-square guitar anthems. Lights blinded. Amps sucked electricity until the grid buckled. Singers shouted to be heard. It was loud. It had to be. In the early 1980s, they were always, always trying to drown out the noise from the bar.

Not Drowning, Waving arrived with other ideas. Why not play in places that didn't fit the description? Why not write songs with texture and space as well as melody and rhythm? Songs with colours from the non-rock palette: piano, violin, cello, harmonium and a whole library of things that go clack and thud when you hit them? And why not turn for inspiration to places generally overlooked, from the acoustic and electronic lines of old Europe to the indigenous atmospherics of this country and the islands that surround us?

The band's high water marks Claim seemed to draw together the strands that had come before, boosted by steel-eyed confidence and an evolving songwriting poise. Rolling Stone named it Album Of The Year. Comparisons were drawn to the likes of Peter Gabriel and David Byrne, both of whom were already fans. Acclaim poured in from offshore. A contract was signed with Warner Bros in New York, inspiring the local office soon after.

Not Drowning, Waving broke up in 1994; some of the members (including Bridie and cellist Helen Mountford) went on to form My Friend The Chocolate Cake.

In 2005, Not Drowning, Waving resurfaced with a performance at the 2005 WOMADelaide festival.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Hi there. Just found your blog while looking for Not Drowning Waving. I had Tabaran and Circus on tape but it was time to replace them with digital. Thanks for providing Tabaran. I tried to d/l Claim but the link's not working. Do you have Circus please?
Can you tell me what My Friend the Chocolate Cake are like? I expect David Bridie's strong presence would give them a similar style to NDW.