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Shards announce new album Byrd Song

26.2  2024


Today Shards announce their new album Byrd Song, inspired by Renaissance composer William Byrd, due April 19 on Erased Tapes. The album consists of eight reimagined works by Shards and their de facto leader Kieran Brunt, featuring the already released Facta est deserta and Amen, amen, amen… With today’s announcement, the vocal group shares the deeply emotional Agnus Dei.

“Agnus Dei is a meditation on a tiny fragment – the opening five notes of the Agnus Dei from Byrd's Mass for Five Voices - which builds into a song that is emotionally raw and impulsive. It's the first time I've recorded a song in one take, singing and playing the Prophet synth at the same time; as a result the rhythm is quite volatile and the processed vocal part florid and improvisatory” — Kieran Brunt

To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of the English composer in 2023, the broadcaster Elizabeth Alker commissioned a series of recordings and reworks of Byrd for a radio special on her BBC Radio 3’s Unclassified show. Kieran Brunt, who was in the midst of writing the new Shards album, contributed Facta est deserta, taking fragments from an original piece, adding autotune and distorted synths, painting a picture of a distant, broken landscape.

After finishing the commission, Brunt found himself distracted and followed his curiosity and delved deeper into Byrd’s compositions, which have long played as an inspiration for him as a composer. Expanding further on this, Brunt says “I’ve been singing Byrd’s music since I was at school, and sang a lot while studying and singing in my college chapel choir, which I did daily for three years. His music has endured for centuries because of its beauty, complexity and intense emotion“.

William Byrd was a devout Catholic in a Protestant England, much of his work was composed illegally at the time and performed in secret. “There’s a real sense of every note and word of text having extreme significance,” he adds.

Having the opportunity to bring new life to Byrd’s music through his own renditions and with the use of electronics, Brunt says “it has been so enjoyable to return to his music and reconnect with it with the tools I now use for my own compositions. I hope that by reimagining it with new timbres and the precision of effects like autotune I can illuminate certain details and shed a new light on its intricacies”.

Shards’ Byrd Song will be released on April 19 via Erased Tapes.

· listen to Agnus Dei

· pre-order the album on DL