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Saena - Saena CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.98 | 16 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Saena has to be destined for high places in 2008's prog polls - I mean, what a terrific album this is, an opus that brings a new definition to the symphonic prog concept. The band Saena is a newcoming ensemble formed by veteran musicians who have done a lot in Mexico's avantgarde and modern music scenes (progressive rock, avantgarde, electronica, chamber, soundtracks for documentary films and theatre plays). Of course, keyboardist-guitarist Fernández Ledesma and singer-keyboardist Margarita Botella are no aliens to followers of mexican prog music since they have released a whole bunch of great eclectic experimental albums (mostly but not exclusively RIO-oriented). The band's trend is dominantly based on keyboard-led harmonic developments and featured violin flourishes, with the guitar adding textures and the rhythm duo supporting the overall dynamics with polished fluidity. Of course, Botella's singins (frequently wordless) operates as an additional set of instrumentation. The compositional ideas are patently well constructed, but still leave room for the msuicians' interactions to create expansions that either prolong a certain mood or originate evocative variations: the pomposity is there, yet under enough control as to let the main melodies and augmented ornaments shine by themsleves. The use of Stick by Hugo Santos (whenever he's not playing the fretless bass) is pertinently placed to add colors mong those laready provided by the keyboards. Sometime you can also hear some santur performed by Botello. The colorfulness is guaranteed. The album kicks off with 'Astromelia', a song announced by magical vocal and violin flows before the whole ensemble goes headlong for a series of harmonic progressions sustained by the solemn marriage of acoustic guitar and piano. There is a clear presence of folk-oriented elements here, but they're as relevant as the fusion and academic factors, making this a truly symphonic entrance. Things get warmer with 'Equinoccio', a track that finds the band leaning toward the bucolic side of their offering. The basic tempo is inspired by Mexican creole music, which creates an aura of enthusiasm eventually enhanced by a celebratory drum solo. 'Venenos y Antídotos' is the album's longest tracks, as well as one of its symphonic pinnacles. The interactions and intersections drawn by the violin, guitar, keyboard and chanting are beautiful beyond words, bearing a special magic that only prog masterpieces can create: it would be fair to notice some influences from Gentle Giant, Yes and early After Crying. The piece is flawlessly polished, while remaining full of emotion and candor. The other symphonic pinnacles are 'Cosecha' and 'Final del Juego'. The former bears a family resemblance with 'Venenos y Antídotos', albeit keeping a lower dose of explicit intensity; the latter brings a vivid combination of colorfulness and softly somber moods, bringing the band mysteriously closer to chamber-rock than to your usual lyrical symphonic prog. Going back to 'Playa Desierta', this one brings the necessary moment of melancholy and meditation after the polychromatic ventures of track 3: anyway, the violin leads float by and by as a passionate companion to Botello's singing. While in most tracks the fusion element is mostly a secondary factor to the band's overall style, there are times when it comes prominently to the fore: that's the case of 'Equinoccio' and also the case of 'Estación de las 12' and the amazing closing track 'Octubre', the latter being closely connected to the former in musicality and mood. This album is a treasure filled with countless gems within its every diamond: the richness of each individual track is carefully crafted without letting real passion out of the picture, in this way making the album a whole progressive kaleidoscope. The Saena people are masters and their album is a masterpiece, as simple as that.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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