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I Hear Sparks: Six Gallery – Breakthroughs in Modern Art

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That Six Gallery came together in the college oasis of Athens, Ohio, as an instrumental combo is something that becomes rather obvious with a few spins of their debut LP. Breakthroughs in Modern Art bursts with the energy and precision of post-rock, but there are layers to this stuff that help it sink deeper in to the melodic consciousness.

Spiraling, exacting post-rock can take a bit of work to get into, especially for the uninitiated. It’s easy to dismiss the chaotic power as disorganization or noise, but acts like Minus the Bear have managed to propel beyond the dismissals to deliver some truly potent shit. And now we can add Six Gallery to the list.

If there was to be a critique of the genre, it could be that the technical aspects of the music sometimes obscure broader emotional truths. But this is another area in which Six Gallery have the assumptions beat, as their passion clearly infuses every note and every beat with the type of emotional scale rarely heard in a debut.

Breakthroughs in Modern Art opens with a sweeping set of chords that crumble into their wrecked cousins. The track, aptly titled “Bermuda Triangles,” is a concrete introduction but vocalist Daniel Francis gives it a trace of weakness and vulnerability by stretching the notes just so.

It’s this vulnerability that makes Breakthroughs such an interesting piece of work. Other bands might elect to tighten the edges, but Six Gallery lets us in and lets us breathe the air through their use of space. The tendency for such a vibrant quintet to flood things with noise and clutter is avoided.

Take “A Live Nativity Scene” as an example. Francis’ hushed vocals introduce us to the track that sets up like a serene evening. Laid out with simple guitar, bass and drums, the song gradually builds and even offers a few moments of quiet reflection on the path to ascension. Gorgeous stuff.

Other tracks follow similar delicate routines, like the beautifully haunting “Built to Last” and the exquisite “Edie & The Marble Faun.”

It is Six Gallery’s command of the great spaces that makes Breakthroughs in Modern Art such an intriguing piece of work. Never willing to settle for devastating, tedious floods of noise, this Ohio outfit stakes a claim in the arts of tension, feeling and exploration.

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About Jordan Richardson