Shards, in general, are small broken pieces of glass, sometimes from mirrors, with sharp edges. When handled carefully they can be used in mosaic art designs, or thrown away. Considering the title of this creative improvised project from metro Detroit violinist Mike Khoury and Ann Arbor soprano saxophonist Piotr Michalowski, the title is apropos. These 16 short pieces are all fragmented, brittle pieces of sound that have an edge, are involved in an atonal discourse, and display a carefree approach limited only to the imagination of the players or listeners. There's limited variety from track to track, all untitled, which to some might indicate a lack of thematic concept. What is here is quite witty and brave, if not a trifle inconclusive in its attempt to be accessible. The texture of the music ranges from a tuning exercise to animated soprano and soaring violin, or the reverse, experimenting in the mezzo forte range, using disparate elements or spatial qualities, percussive breathing, and plucked or bow tapped strings. Michalowski can sound quite distraught, snippy, honky, or harsh, while Khoury is more tuneful, strident and chatty. As the CD moves along, the saxophonist employs slap-tongue techniques, overblowing and barking, with improv (track) nine the most universally listenable, track eleven showing them at their best listening to each other, and track fourteen playing off each other. The percussive quality is the most consistently heard element between the two throughout. This recording is recommended to the die-hard challenged listener, with hopes you will explore other musics from these gifted post-modern expressionists.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos