Shards is a fresh band hailing from London, UK. They are a vocal ensemble that breathes new life into choral arrangements by having an electronic backbone hold the lush voices on top. Not much is known about the band so far, aside from the fact that the tecently released Find Sound is their debut album.
Find Sound takes its listeners on an exquisite experience of musical straightforwardness and alluring tones. Where many artists rely on various manners of intricacies to distinguish themselves or to create an outstanding effect, Shards revel in their minimalist approach to deliver something spectacular. Besides the actual choir, there is just enough instrumentation to say that it this isn’t a purely a capella album. Do not be misled: each little beat and accent serves a very well-defined purpose in giving the exact amount of contour and nuance needed for a specific part. This is an album that finds balance in its sounds.
The album opens up with its soft and catchy title track, which is made up of a nicely rounded bass-line, a simple rhythm, and the choir singing the song’s main melodies. Shards employ a mixed choir, giving us a taste of what is to follow as well as showing us that there is still hope for modern and enthralling choir-driven music. All the singers have a great command of their voices and very pleasant timbral qualities. “Summer Sickness” follows closely with a similar setup, leading the action with a looped synth while the choir billows effortlessly about like crisp clouds on a serene summer day. “Dissect” abruptly cuts into the established mood with an eerily minimalist mindset; all sounds are reversed for some extra oddity – an original interlude to say the least.
“Thoughts” riffs on this somewhat introspective feeling, bordering on a melancholic mood as well. The electronic trills are somewhat reminiscent of your classic post-rock tremolo-picking lead guitar sections. While the voices sound angelic, there is a surreal overtone that blooms around their edges. “Beams”, the longest of the album’s songs, is also easily the most soothing tune of the batch. It lunges the listener into an enchanting realm, a heaven for the lack of a better term. A place of tranquil textures and idyllic vistas where one – above all else – simply exists . “Lost” cuts off said mood quite abruptly to instead espouse an odd and loose sound, as if the tunes themselves have been lost and only echoes remain scattered about.
“Nebulous” is quite aptly titled, because the feeling it conveys is one that is shrouded in uncertainty and ambiguously developed, settling on a sensation of obscurity and unrest. Speaking of which, “Unrest” comes along to develop this same basic recipe into a very catchy display of vocal bursts. It showcases some of the most dynamic deliveries across the board, making great use of onomatopoeic shards to properly articulate the emotive undertone. This gives way for “Inner Counterpoint” to come along as somewhat opposing in tone and approach, with a more subdued energy, yet with a similar weight. The album closes elegantly with “I Needed the Sun”, a mellow song that turns the repetition of its single verse into the perfect leitmotif for Find Sound‘s coda.
With Find Sound, Shards have successfully created a soundscape that was sorely missing from modern music. Their work stands out thanks to authentic songwriting, powerful delivery, great prowess, and a knack for unique aural textures. I’m not sure how words can properly cut to the core of what these people do, but I am sure this album needs to be heard by all fans of music.