Part minimalist drone, part dub, and part pagan sleepover incantation, Melbourne, Australia's Fabulous Diamonds specialize not so much in songs but in pools of unease. On their self-titled full-length debut, percussionist/vocalist Nisa Venerosa and keyboardist/saxophonist Jarrod Zlatic follow post-punk's original inclinations. They embrace bass frequencies instead of treble, easy tempos instead of manic energy, and a full-bore penchant for the macabre. But where similarly minded Southern Hemisphere contemporaries like Naked on the Vague brandish sharp edges and jagged textures, Fabulous Diamonds songs are smooth enough to run your fingers over.
On their self-titled debut LP, Fabulous Diamonds fight a losing battle with focus; the picture is always blurring and the plot is always slipping in and out of perspective. Venerosa handles the majority of the vocals, but she doesn't sing so much as chant in an unsettling tenor. "Patience and virtue are two things you don't have/ Guideless, spineless, lacking in conscience," she says on "2" over a primitive rhythm while Zladic alternates two chords on a buzzy keyboard. Slowly the song drifts out of shape-- evaporating into a washed out haze of delay that's anchored only by the ritualistic thump of a drum machine. Four minutes in all that's left of "2" is low-level hiss.
Clever inversions and variations on this formula fill out the rest remainder record. On "5" gauzy vocal drones gradually coalesce into form, briefly drawing Venerosa's voice out from the bog only to have it wander back into a wilderness of echo. During "6" Zladic substitutes a croaking jazz-student saxophone melody for the vocals, creating an oddly funky instrumental that ripples with warbling ambience, like Fela Kuti leading Young Marble Giants. Yet even as songs may glide in and out of view, Fabulous Diamonds maintain their sharp consistency of mood. Venerosa sums up the record's feel in "7"s quasi-Danzigian mantra: "Local cemeteries whisky witch ceremonies/ Acid casualty has mangled me," she sings. Gloom is Fabulous Diamonds' dingy muse. But it's so elegantly portrayed here that it's hard not to be drawn to it.
— Aaron Leitko, September 18, 2008