Musically, this a fascinating hybrid -- there are distinct echoes of David Sylvian
here, resting alongside aboriginal features, strings, Daffy Duck (sound bites from Duck! Rabbit! Duck), elegant piano-based ballads that manage to be both mournful and majestic, and one of the best songs of 2001: "Palau," with its low-key hypnotic pulse and breathy chorus of "Pass the buckets up the pyramid line" amidst a description of a native town struck by the lightning of progress. In many respects, though, the whole album is unusual -- four of the ten tracks are instrumentals, ranging from the powerhouse beat of "Wobble," with Daffy Duck popping up through expertly played drums and clanging bass, to the softly classical "Maroon Rust." You really have no idea what to expect next. For the most part, it's musically subtle -- no gentle introductions to a wall of sound here; you're more likely to be drawn in, absorbed by the unique blend of sounds. Lyrically, these are songs about another world -- sometimes apparently about growing up in Australia, sometimes about places somewhere in the southern hemisphere. There's a strong Third World sense here, and a very visual atmosphere to it all -- they draw pictures with music and words both, and there's a distinct sense of heat and dust about it all, a languid afternoon feeling painted in reds and browns. It's a truly astonishing feat to project something of that nature as well as Not Drowning, Waving
project it. Many bands can manage cool, but dusty heat is something else. Like fellow Australians Hunters & Collectors
, Not Drowning, Waving
has managed to infuse outside elements into their work, and it's a major benefit, not just because it's a different sound -- but because you can't imagine them without that exquisite blend.