Three years after the rather disappointing Soho Square, Daniel Biro released his second CD The Comparative Anatomy of Angels. The four pieces it comprises are among his finest work. With the exception of the two "Strange Attractor" pieces, they all illustrate his distinct compositional style. Biro favors the use of multiple cycles (either melodic or harmonic) evolving on different time frames, which creates ever-changing combinations. In the title piece and "Beba in White," this technique is applied to voice and guitar. The first piece is a triptych for three female voices and programmed percussion. Each movement uses a short text on a particular angel (Mikael, Azrael, and Gabriel). Véronique Joly, Cathryn Robson, and Lucie Robson create fascinating interlaced lines. The second piece features acoustic (Simon Scardanelli) and electric guitars (Steve Swift and Patrick Tedd) playing a cycle of six chords in various ranges. Once again the result is a kaleidoscopic piece, this time (because of the instruments involved) reminiscent of the early work of the French group Philarmonie -- or even The League of Crafty Guitarists. After these two pieces, the two movements of "Strange Attractor" bring a pause. They are two delicate improvisations on a Fender Rhodes electric piano (a rare solo feature for this instrument), a rehearsal of sorts before the longer exercise found on Biro's next album, Elegant Enigmas. The CD ends with the 22-minute "With These Gloves You Will Enter Mirrors Like Water," a gripping work based on a symmetrical sequence of ten chords, for string quartet, voice, and synthesizer. Here the composer's lyricism shines, thanks mostly to Joly's sensual and frail interpretation of a text by poet Jean Cocteau. Without resorting to atonality, Biro managed to present strong, evocative, and yet very modern pieces. Strongly recommended.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by François Couture