March 23, 2010 - Superball
Six Gallery were used to be an instrumental post-rock band, issuing two EPs before deciding they were missing a certain element. Vocalist Daniel Francis entered the fold soon thereafter--it helped the dude could play guitar and piano--and suddenly, Six Gallery have a whole new sound for their first LP,Breakthroughs In Modern Art.
Breakthroughs doesn't quite deliver on its title's epic promise, but it's an enjoyable attempt. Six Gallery can be both subtle and suffocating, sometimes at the same time. The former comes courtesy of Francis' voice, which can offer a moderately lower drone or quaint, modern "emo" mannerisms, Overall, he sounds a bit like Forgive Durden's Thomas Dutton circa Wonderland crossed with This Town Needs Guns' Stuart Smith, only way reared back at almost all times; his most blatantly able melodies and adventurism comes in the intro of "Just Hey." But that sly approach also surfaces--albeit quietly--in the band's musical soundscapes, as shown by "A Live Nativity Scene," which seems to hint toward Six Gallery's post-rock past with tepid sparkles at the end that tighter production might have better pronounced.
The suffocating...well, maybe that's being a bit harsh. Listeners should simply be ready to whip out their time-signature calculators--or air guitars, depending on their preference. Dizzying, noodly riffs a la Maps & Atlases abound everywhere; hell, there's a moment in "Built To Last" that practically sounds like DragonForce at quarter-time, while Francis' voice saunters above a bed of fingertaps in "Glaciar De Las La`grimas," a meeting recalling Highly Refined Pirates (a similarity no stranger to "Fish Milk," as well).
Overall, Six Gallery seem at their best when building mightier crescendos and injecting their atmospheres with tasteful, incredibly fine-spun post-rock hints (see: "Say Matte"; "Honestly, Really"). Nonetheless, Breakthroughs In Modern Art manages to be a linear, gratifying listen speckled with Six Gallery's greater moments and their promise looming ahead.