Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Shards - Unrest

Erased Tapes have done it again. The ‘it’ is to breathe life into another unusual, original, poignant contemporary classical group - and to righteously deliver their music our ears, where it belongs! There was Nils Frahm; there was A Winged Victory for the Sullen; etc…

Now there is Shards: a twelve-member experimental choral group led by Kieran Brunt. Their recently released debut album Fine Sounds is in turns disquieting and comforting, minimal and cinematic, digital and analogue; Brunt’s desire to play, to experiment, unconstrained, is transparent at every point on the album. And yet this free play comes across as neither scattered nor incoherent. Instead, the anchor of the album tying it to worldly concerns is its reverence for the textures of all 12 voices. Eager to celebrate the voices and bring as many effects as possible out of them, Brunt sometimes allows them to collect into a powerful wall that crescendos like a storm gathering; elsewhere the harmonies are delicate and uplifting; and sometimes single, forlorn voices flicker in and out of our path (ehemm “Lost”).

This is an album that ponders if choral music can be deeply affecting and deeply human even when chopped up, filtered, interwoven with synths  effects, with robotic elements, with smatterings of percussion and bass. The answer: a resounding yes. When you open up this album and its tones hit you, you’ll feel you’ve entered a surreal church service at some sort of Hi-Tech Cathedral.

"Unrest" is my favorite track on the album. For ... reasons.

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