Six Gallery - Breakthroughs in Modern Art
Record Label: Superball Music
Release Date: March 23, 2010
Transitions in music aren't supposed to go this well.
Lineup changes should normally mean some sort of awkward phase for a band, a period of lesser quality and more self-discovery as they try to feel their way towards the sound they are meant to create. This goes doubly true when the change involves the vocalist, the focal point of most bands. When you mess with something that significant, it's nearly impossible to come back better and stronger than before.
Now consider that Colombus, Ohio-based Six Gallery was formerly an instrumental band, adding a vocalist to the group for the first time. How could a vocalist, often the face of a group, seamlessly fit into an established instrumental post-rock group?
Six Gallery has shown us the answer by flawlessly adding a whole new aspect to their music, using it to enhance their sound rather than change it. The key to making it all work is the fact that, instead of making the vocals the focus and clumsily adjusting to fit them, the vocals are used to supplement the music much the same as any instrument. When the soaring voice is replaced by a blistering guitar riff, it goes off without a hitch (see "Built to Last" and "A Live Nativity Scene", two of the best tracks on the album). Everyone is given an opportunity to shine, and it rarely feels forced.
Everything here works together. Guitars, bass, drums, vocals - they all build off each other to create an incredible, cohesive sound. While upon first listen it is readily obvious that the guitars are the centerpiece (opener "Bermuda Triangles" is dominated by a rapid, flowing guitar riff), further listening shows that this band is not merely pretentious guitar technicality. The sound is full, with a concrete foundation built with steadying bass that keeps it grounded and drums that keep everything together, over which the emotive vocals and poppy, frenetic guitars can soar, creating the atmospheric sound that Six Gallery excels at ("Glacier de las La'grimas", "A Live Nativity Scene").
There are very few missteps on this album. "Just Hey" is kind of a cool song, but a little out of place, and it never really seems to decide what it wants to be. It starts with an incredibly cool bass line, but shifts gears and emphasis in the beginning a few too many times. It's also one of the few tracks where the guitars take over a little too much, with the entire middle section feeling like a "hey, look what I can do!" track.
This is a rare occurrence though, as the guitarists are able to toe the line between too much noodling and just the right amount on almost every track. Six Gallery does an incredible job making space for everything to not only fit, but to stand out. Tracks like "Built to Last" and "Edie and the Marble Faun" are absolutely incredible, with an expansive, dreamy atmosphere that you can't help but be captivated by. Six Gallery have flawlessly added another element to their music while maintaining their instrumental sound. Without a doubt, this is an excellently-executed album from an incredibly talented band.