FABULOUS DIAMONDS - CD (Nervous Jerk/2008)That's either the best or worst album cover of the year. You'll see it soon in all its 12" glory when the vinyl version comes out via Siltbreeze. I saw this duo play about 18 months ago at a Missing Link Christmas party. I'd heard the surrounding hype and had my ears cynically pricked up high, ready for a slagging. I don't mean to be so contrary, but when a host of young, beautiful and oh-so-hip folks start singing the praises of a group, I go on the defensive. The band has to prove themselves to me. That night, Fabulous Diamonds did. Once I let my guard down, I let their dub-heavy post-punk skronk 'n' groove wash over me and I was convinced. Until last night, at their launch for this very CD, I had not seen them play since. In the flesh, they're still a very impressive proposition: a duo, Nisa Venerosa on percussion/vocals and Jarrod Zlatic on organ, sax, vocals, harmonium, tapes, etc., they never let their shrunken line-up become a hindrance nor gimmick. The sound is never cluttered nor does it sound too bare. Fact is, they're incredibly good at what they do, and this CD, which has been on repeat since last night, has me convinced they're absolutely one of Australia's best and most interesting combos. No need for song titles; there are seven tracks on this CD w/ nary a title in sight. What you get are musical sketches which tend to blend into each other. Venerosa prefers her tom skins and keeps most beats in tribal, shuffling mode, and her pipes sound like they were ripped from the throat of a Rough Trade 7" ca. 1979 (an overused comparison, but one which nails it). Jarrod jumps from instrument to intrument, from ghostly sax wails (kinda like a downtown NYC loft-meets-Dik Mik way) to Seeds-y organ grooves to minimal piano rolls. Some friends of mine think they're a con; the schtick's down pat, but there's not much else. Bully to that. I'd love to have a band which stole the best elements of Augustus Pablo, Arthur Russell, Raincoats and Can, too, and better yet would be a band with songs. FD have 'em - in the same sense that PiL ca. '79 and Can ca. '72 had 'em - and the fact that I've just played this CD 10 times in a row is proof of it. I'm converted. Absolutely one of the year's best.
And... yes, that is Jarrod's real back hair on the cover.