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José Luis Fernández Ledesma


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José Luis Fernández Ledesma Al Filo album cover
3.99 | 14 ratings | 4 reviews | 21% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Las Siete Columnas (10:10)
2. Presencias (3:41)
3. Oniromante (5:09)
4. Espejismo (7:14)
5. El Triangulo (7:46)
6. Ojo de Venado (6:21)
7. Las Cuatro Imágenes (24:39) :
- I. La Noria
- II. Dia Interno
- III. Mirandome Mirarme
- IV. Una Larga Agonia
8. El Enyerbao (4:29)

Total time 69:29

Line-up / Musicians

- José Luis Fernández Ledesma / keyboards, acoustic, 12-string & electric guitars, kalimba, ocarina, bass, autoharp, Fender Rhodes, vihuela, piano, harmonium, djembe, flute, finger cymbals, vocals

- Margarita Botello / vocals, synth, santoor, drum, shaker, bells, cymbal, maracas
- Germán Bringas / soprano sax
- Raul Flores / ethnic percussion

Releases information

Artwork: José Luis Fernández Ledesma Ruiz

CD Luna Negra ‎- CDLN-19 (2002, Mexico)

Thanks to avestin for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JOSÉ LUIS FERNÁNDEZ LEDESMA Al Filo ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album and "Sol Central" are, in my opinion, the two pillars of JLFL's discography: almost any other recording by him should be evaluated and reviewed regarding its proximity to one of the two aforesaid albums. "Al Filo" has to be his most disturbing album ever, really scary, yet, in a strange way, it is not oppressive or overwhelming. There is a certain dreamy aura to the instrumental deliveries comprised in this album that makes it sound magical in a recurrent fashion. But as I said before, this is not the magic of a Disney animated movie soundtrack: this is a very gloomy album, at times sinister. The terrifying beauty of the album cover - a round dance of female infant ghosts in the mist of the night - is an extension of the most disturbing sonorities that the listener will find here. In fact, the 10 minute opener 'Las Siete Columnas' is a well accomplished exercise on enchanting minimalism built with mysterious keyboard-based soundscapes upon which percussive ornaments and choral washes go drifting by. This soft grayness bears a very appealing feel, indeed. Things turn into a more serene realm with 'Presence', a candid piece on acoustic guitar. This is just a momentary rest, since the disturbing moods return in an enhanced manner with 'Oniromante' - this is really a portrait of limbo turned into sounds of keyboard, guitar, flute and female singing, all of them confluent in a weird dynamics. The last 90 seconds bring a shade of light with a beautiful duet of acoustic guitar and vihuela. 'Espejismo' is pure thanatos, a sinister journey into the catacombs of the heart: not unlike the preceding track, the last minute provides an unexpected relaxing twist to the theme's development. 'El Triángulo,' on the other hand, goes to dark places in full swing, albeit with a proper touch of subtlety that makes it comfortably coherent together with the remaining tracks in the album. This sequence of tracks 3 - 5 serves as a continuing highlight. 'Ojo de Venado' changes things quite a bit with those gracious percussive arrangements and those elegant flourishes on treated guitar. The suite 'Las Cuatro Imágenes' is the most ambitious item in this repertoire. This one pretty much sounds like a compendium of what the album is all about: 'La Noria' is a bit more colorful than most racks in the album; 'Día Interior' is full of shades; 'Mirándome Mirarme' states a hypnotic frenzy; and finally, 'Una Larga Agonía' displays a twilight atmosphere than at times becomes almost silent, but the last 30 seconds are filled with an impressive, spectral crescendo. This suite is a masterful example of genius texture managing. The closer 'El Enyerbao' bears influences from the musique concrete tradition and the tribal side of experimental prog, with a strong emphasis on percussive instruments from the Mexican deserts' folk music. All in all, "Al Filo" is an excellent opus by JLFL. The reason why I don't give it the same rating that I gave to "Sol Central" or "Designios" is that I am particularly more impressed by the colorful side of JLFL's music, but if your avant-prog tastes give preferential room to the minimalist trend, you might as well find this album a masterpiece, pure and simple. 4 or 5 stars for this album, I cannot imagine how it could get a lower rating.
Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars It's difficult to grasp how much talent Fernandez Ledesma has. This man can do it all, and he has his sidekick Margarita Botello helping out as usual with ethnic instruments, vocals and synths. This album surprised me because of how different it is from other albums of his i've heard, and I have several. This is at times very dark and haunting, almost like a soundtrack to a horror movie. It's not all like that but this record is very haunting for the most part. This is the kind of album that you can get lost in. If you have a good imagination you can put the headphones on and be transported to different places and worlds. There is some really good affects and atmosphere which is a credit to Ledesma.

"Las Siete Columnas" opens with this dark and haunting atmosphere. Percussion and voices 2 1/2 minutes in. Scary stuff. A melody of sorts arrives after 4 1/2 minutes as the spooky mood continues. It's spacey before 8 minutes and then these voices come in a minute later to end it. "Presencias" features acoustic guitar playing throughout. Beautiful yet sad. "Oniromante" opens with vocal melodies and acoustic guitar? Flute and other sounds join in. Percussion after 2 1/2 minutes. It settles after 4 minutes with an ethnic instrument and acoustic guitar-like melodies. "Espejismo" is eerie with these violin-like sounds as other sounds join in and come and go. Very atmospheric and haunting. Brilliant. "El Triangulo" is like a song from a horror movie soundtrack. Haha, this will freak you out. "Ojo De Venado" sounds great with the acoustic guitars, flute and synths. Drums 2 1/2 minutes in and there's so much going on.

"Las Cuatro Imagenes" is the over 24 1/2 minute epic. It's haunting early with sounds that echo and other sounds including vocal expressions. Water sounds 3 1/2 minutes in. Sax before 7 minutes. The water sounds are back then they stop around 11 minutes as it gets spooky. A rhythm 13 1/2 minutes in with vocal melodies and intricate sounds. Nice. It starts to let up around 20 minutes until the rhythm stops completely. It's haunting again. The sound gets really loud to end it. "El Enyerbao" features percussion and other ethnic sounds. It gets noisy 2 1/2 minutes in then settles back again.

This really is a mind trip that has to be heard to be believed.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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!

Review by admireArt
4 stars J.L. Fernandez Ledezma's "Al Filo" (2002), is intricate and enticing. It will be a shame to just pin it down to a specific "tagging".

Song writing progresses in each track to opposite moods. From the "dark" chorales of "Las Siete Columnas" its first track, to an immediate change of pace with the beautiful single acoustic guitar composition "Presencias". Both worlds come togethet in its third track "Oniromante", where all time collaborator Margarita Botello displays her talents in "invisible" singing. "Espejismo" the fourth track, as its name suggests, is an almost ethereal track, full of minimal hypnotic structures, which turns to be an exquisite background for both electric and acoustic guitars to come forward and then just vanish. These songs could be enjoyed by any kind of Prog-audiophile.

Next comes the mysterious 5th track "El Triangulo" this one is closer to electronic/acoustic experimentations. What makes it tick, is the extraordinary structure constructed solely with long flowing flute notes and menacing eerie lament like choruses, which makes it quiet clear why this musician was included in the RiO/AV prog sub-genre.

As the tormentous sky clears away, comes "Ojo de Venado" the sixth track, a more dynamic even festive song, with a blend of up-front Rock and a rain of not very Rock likely instruments vanishing all borders with his always great sense of musical composition and arrangements. The heavy 'RiO" bass is delightful.

After the "party" things slow down again in probably the most beautiful song along with track 2, "Las Cuatro Imagenes" ("The Four Images") the seventh track. Its minimal intrumentation brings it close to the best kind of "ambient" music. Again the marvelous voice choruses, the recurring guitar theme into a parallel harmonic environment even more "naked" than its introduction, but with the howling grief of a distant sax and its counterpointing sister flute. As the song evolves the "third" image" appears, to shower the track with an up-beat rhythm and "close to heaven" musical arrangements and song writing. To wave the day goodbye comes along the ephemeral dark closure, the "fourth image". Full of chaotic yet distant choruses. The 5 star song of this project .

To end things up track 8 "El Enyerbao", a mixture of prog/electronics and "native" music, which sounds as an extremely refined ritualisic "Residents" tribute. Short and fun.

I highly recommend this album to any follower of prog, but with a taste for the Avant Garde!

****4+ my review, PA stars.

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