REVIEW: Love of Diagrams, Mosaic, Matador

Posted May 5th, 2007 by Eric Greenwood · No Comments

This Australian trio sounds like it has just discovered post-punk, playing it with a quick fuse and an urgency lacking in so many of its peers. The jagged and angular guitar work speaks to the ubiquitous Gang of Four, but, as in is the case with most post-punk, it’s the bass that leads the way. Anotnia Sellbach’s bass lines are sturdy, confidant, and subversively melodic, driving the rhythms and time changes with flawless redirection. The music is a studied recreation of its blatant musical ancestry. Along with Wire, Pere Ubu, and the aforementioned Gang of Four, Love of Diagrams delves deeply into the early Pixies cannon with splintering guitar shards and vocalizations that evoke Kim Deal’s wide-eyed innocence.

“Form and Function” is a powerhouse opener, setting the stage for the band’s dire emergency. Sellbach’s hungry bass veers off in unexpected and exciting tangents, while Luke Horton’s guitar work cleverly ebbs and flows in the open spaces. “The Pyramid” is an infectious dose of inverted Pixies that wouldn’t sound too out of place on the Surfer Rosa, as Sellbach’s girlish voice puts on a brave front in the shout-along chorus.

The first time the band even considers rolling back the energy is on “Ms V Explore”, which practically serves as a ballad compared to the rest of the record, and it reveals an emotional dimension heretofore unheard in this context. And likewise, if there’s one thing to complain about it’s the lack of range, not only in musical expression but also in emotional impact. The band is so consistently nervous and agitated that it becomes aggravating to listen to in one sitting, almost a bit same-y. Taken in short bursts, however, Mosaic lurches from sharp edge to sharp edge with surges of tension and aggression that sound raw and alive.

The unfinished fragment, “Double”, mines a cryptic ambience with the echo on Sellbach’s vocals bordering on “Hurdy Gurdy Man”-style creepiness. On “What Was I supposed to Do?” Sellbach actually sounds exposed emotionally- an air of vulnerability in her voice, as her bass swoops between low end rumblings. But even the change of pace gets caught in a rut of one dimensional pay offs. This band knows two speeds: frantic urgency and meandering lull. While Love of Diagrams’ taut interplay is exciting to experience, the band rarely stops to explore what lies beneath. But the potential is there for something truly great.

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