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José Luis Fernández Ledesma - Al Filo CD (album) cover


José Luis Fernández Ledesma



3.99 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Wonderful!

When one is familiarized with a band or artists, it is common to share the same thoughts regarding their different albums and compositions, with Jose Luis Fernández Ledesma's music happens that I always end up with a huge satisfaction after listening to his music, because it is not the conventional kind of prog rock, it is really original, dynamic and diverse, so I share the same feeling with all the albums he appears (the ones I've listened to, of course). And what a better way to share these feelings than writing a review, besides, I help a little bit spreading the word, inviting people to listen to this Mexican progressive rock icon.

"Al filo" is an album released in 2002, one of his better known works along with "Sol Central" and "Designios", here as usual, Margarita Botello is an essential piece of this puzzle, helping Ledesma in every composition. This album consists of eight compositions that make a total time of 69 minutes; we will find six average-length songs, while we will also listen to a 10-minute track, and a 24-minute epic.

The first song is entitled "Las siete columnas", relaxing ethnic and environmental music can be heard in the first moments, after some four minutes Botello's voice can be softly heard, while strings, percussion and synth create the background that never stops, taking our souls and essence to a different world, sharing peace and harmony. In the last two minutes a male voice can be also listened, spreading the inherent ethnic and even new- age-like sound that Ledesma's albums have.

"Presencias" is a short acoustic guitar track that shares serenity and ease during its four minutes. It is linked to "Oniromante" in which the female voice returns accompanying the acoustic guitar, the wonderful soundscapes and the delicious ethnic percussions. After two and a half minutes the intensity increases, the volume is higher as well as the emotions; a flute enters along with more percussion, vocals and a superb synth work. In the last minute it slows down and offers a delicate passage with acoustic guitar.

"Espejismo" has a weird sound that clearly shows the avant-garde tendencies of this composer, who besides Botello, is complemented by two guest musician's talent: Raul Flores, whose help in the sounding structure for this particular track was essential, and Germán Bringas with a saxophone. The second part of this track has the addition of the electric guitar for some moments; later we will listen to soundscapes and the female voice as background fading out delicately.

"El triángulo" follows with the ethnic and atmospheric path, however, here I can feel some uncertainty and fear in some brief moments, I mean, compared with the previous tracks, this one makes me open my eyes and lose the peace I had, which does not mean it makes a failed song, no, it simply provoked a different thing on me and only in brief passages, I repeat. "Ojo de venado" has a more pastoral sound created by flute, strings and percussions. Later the bass creates a darker atmosphere, while the electric guitar keeps doing its work, and the diverse percussion instruments complete the body. Just before the fourth minute the song becomes more intense, with higher intensity and energy, however it lasts only for a minute because later it slows down and finishes with a soft sound contrasted with a strong bass.

One of the most complex and challenging compositions in Ledesma's repertoire has to be this 24-minute song entitled "Las cuatro imágenes", which is divided in four passages. A warning here: you better listen to it (and the whole album, by the way) with good headphones if you truly want to appreciate the diversity of textures, colors and nuances offered; another warning, do not listen to it when tired, because you may feel deeply relaxed and fall asleep (not because it is boring, not at all, but because its purity and laid-back mood may soften your mind and soul). In this track we can listen to the exquisite saxophone, along with the already known elements they have shared in the previous tracks. In the different passages of this epic we can appreciate how it changes, how it fades out and reappers, and how it progresses. One of my favorite moments is the folkish and ethnic sound produced after 15 minutes, with a richness of elements, a soulful structure and a tune that immerses us into their realm.

The last track of the album is "El enyerbado (pilón)" which is like the extra track of "Al filo". This song features percussions and the inherent ethnic sound. Well, here the quality of Fernández Ledesma is evident once again, he composes challenging and not-so-easy-to- dig music, but once you appreciate it, you will surely get caught by its charm. This album is guarantee of quality, howeve, I admit it is not my favorite of him, it does not reaches the perfection that I found in others (I said I found, because after all subjectivity is what counts here), that is why I am giving four stars to this album, which I highly recommend to fans of original ethnic prog.

Enjoy it!

memowakeman | 4/5 |


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