Find Sound is the debut album from Shards, a London-based vocal group led by singer, composer and producer Kieran Brunt.
After a collaboration with Terry Riley in 2016, Brunt was asked by the Barbican to form a choral group for Nils Frahm’s Possibly Colliding Festival. This led to an invitation to collaborate on vocal arrangements for Frahm’s recent album, All Melody.
The minimalist compositions that comprise Shard’s Find Sound utilise a stripped back palette of voice, synthesisers and percussion. Reflecting the mood-shifts of early adulthood, the album leaps between calm and tumult. ‘Thoughts’ has a feeling of conclusion or disturbed realisation, while ‘Equally Nebulous’ is handsome, moody and unsettled. Watery tom drums bubble and burst as Gregorian-esc chants surge and lull whilst a metallic, softly-beaten rhythm keeps the pace.
At the climax of ‘Beams’, pulses of bass and dry percussion meet, meticulously arranged so as to remain unobtrusive. Next, ‘Summer Sickness’ brings feelings of optimism and transcendence, misguiding the listener and pulling them away from the darker subject matter. A soft arpeggiated synthesiser escalates and dips between soaring vocals. It’s easy to imagine the flicker of sunlight through bedroom blinds, as it perhaps did in Palazzo Stabile, a house and studio in the hills of the Piedmontese countryside where the album was recorded.
In Find Sound, Shards took advantage of the different environments surrounding Pallazo Stabile, including a converted barn and a 200-year-old wine cellar as unconventional recording spaces. In doing so, the group have brought incorporated an immersive range of natural tones and reverbs into the record, as demonstrated in Inner Counterpoint, where the careful interplay between space and voice makes for one of the finer moments of this record.
Made up ‘almost entirely of friends-of-friends’, including composers, folk musicians and teachers, each of the 12 singers featured on the album was handpicked by Brunt with the intention of letting their individual characters shine through. The result is deeply personal and most successful on tracks like ‘I Needed the Sun’, where whispered, almost spoken vocals, are complemented by a naïve and hurried recording style, thus providing an intimate end to this record.
Shards - Find Sound was released on Erased Tapes on August 30, 2019. The album is available on vinyl, CD, and as a digital download.