Abstract art, music intersect 

Their music may be a complex hybrid of Joy Division-thick rhythms, jagged guitar work and girl-group vocals that recalls clever post-punk firebrands from the early ’80s such as Kleenex, the Delta 5 and the Bush Tetras.

But don’t look too deeply into the name origins of brainy Australian power trio Love of Diagrams, or the band’s stateside debut disc "Mosaic," out this week on Matador. (The group plays Slim’s on Saturday.)

The words mean exactly what they say. Bassist/singer Antonia Sellbach, 25, whose degree is in abstract art, does have a deep, abiding love of diagrams. In her recent post-grad work, she’s been piecing together nothing but mosaics. "Over the last year, I noticed that a lot of the ideas I had musically were linking up with my art ideas," explains the conceptualist, who also dabbles in animation and graphic design back home in Melbourne.

"And for these massive mosaic constructions I’ve been making to connect, metaphorically, with the band? It’s just a very exciting time for me."

What does Sellbach’s art resemble? "They’re gigantic triangles that continually fit together, big colorful triangulated constructions," she says, while guitarist Luke Horton and drummer Monika Fikerle sit quietly beside her. "They’re stained oil and color, and kind of translucent, as well. And my animation is abstract, too, with a lot of little triangles moving around."

In galleries today, she frowns, "some people are just looking for figuration, like the man and the dog and the umbrella. And when they don’t see that, they kind of go, ‘Oh ...’ and walk off. But I really love abstraction. In everything I do."

Love of Diagrams started in ’01 in an unconventional manner, as an all-instrumental band, with Sellbach gradually edging into the spotlight after several years. Learning to sing was "painful," she winces. "But I wanted more of a challenge, so I literally had to force myself to keep doing it. But then we had to face a lot of flak from Australian audiences, because they only knew us as this instrumental group — all of a sudden, I was singing, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, they were so much better when they didn’t have vocals.’ So I was really sensitive to that."

Matador, which swept Diagrams away from its hometown indie label, Unstable Ape, has unveiled its prize find slowly, with an eponymous EP a month ago that contained edgy originals and one cover: "Cool," by a female-fronted ’80s combo from Athens, Ga. called Pylon.

Sellbach discovered the band on the Internet, and fell in love with it. But she adds, " … It’s not like we only listen to post-punk music. We all grew up in the ’90s, listening to the Pixies, Bikini Kill, all the Riot Grrrl stuff. Riot Grrrl, in fact, was a major influence on me. It showed that you could be a girl and be in a band."

Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Love of Diagrams, The Don’ts

Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $16

Contact: (415) 255-0333 or www.slims-sf.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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