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José Luis Fernández Ledesma


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José Luis Fernández Ledesma Designios album cover
4.59 | 14 ratings | 3 reviews | 50% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Ave Luz (7:58)
2. Muro Ciego (3:53)
3. Saena (7:32)
4. Cancion Para un Dia (í (6:36
5. Abismo (4:20)
6. Los Designios de Geminis (17:53)
7. Punta Cometa (8:44)

Total time 56:56

Line-up / Musicians

- José Luis Fernández Ledesma / keyboards, acoustic, 12-string & electric guitars, mandolin, ocarina, santoor, bass, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha P100, flute, Crumar Spirit, Korg MS20 & Oberheim Matrix synths, EMax sampler, ethnic percussion, vocals

- Margarita Botello / vocals, Crumar Spirit synth, autoharp, percussion, maracas
- Alejandro Sanchez / violin (3)
- Ángela Aldama / violin (4)
- Vera Koulkova / violin (5)
- Vitali Roumanov / cello (4,6)
- Fernando Dominguez / clarinets (5,6)
- Manuel Ugarte / flute (6)
- Hugo Santos / Chapman stick (4)
- Julio Sandoval / bass (5-7)
- Hernan Hecht / drums (3,5,6)
- Raul Flores / percussion (3,4,6,7)

Releases information

Artwork: José Luis Fernández Ledesma Ruiz

CD Luna Negra ‎- CDLN-21 (2003, Mexico)

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

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(50%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (7%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
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
5 stars For once, JLFL strayed a bit from his avant-garde musical vision and focused on a more symphonic- oriented style, with lots of prog-folk and fusion elements brought in to provide special cadences and textures to the overall scheme. This album includes reburbished versions of two old tracks, 'Abismo' and 'Los Designios de géminis', which date back from his old days in Nirgal Vallis, a pioneering symphonic prog band that kept a low profile in the 80s Mexican rock scene. This detail is an indication of how decided was JLFL to explore that unusual part (the symphonic one) of his musical interests. The fact is that this album sounds majestic from beginning to end, with each and every note, each and every particle of sound, every instrument in itself and in connection with the others: no matter how explicitly pompous or candidly serene a particular piece is, definitely there will be a majestic aura to it. The presence of singer Margarita Botello is crucial for the development of the melodic developments that take place in each track: she is sensible enough as to enhance the ambiences and atmospheres completed with the instrumental input. The opener is dominated by the acoustic guitars' dynamic strumming, complemented with flute lines and soft guitar layers: the track's spirit bears a folkish vibe, with an added touch of ethereal magnetism. A very appelaing opener, indeed. Track 2 is more explicilty focused on the reflective side of things, bearing a delicate experimental air with an extra touch of spiritual mystery: the processed sounds of string and percussion instruments sound like a background dream for Botello's vocal deliveries. This is like a momentary walkabout in the autumn fog, before the sun appears solidly in the sky on the wings of 'Saena'. 'Saena' is a beautiful highlight of the album, led by the piano mtifs and fed with keyboard orchestrations, mandolin washes, flute adornments and subtly delivered rhythmic patterns, plus a splendid violin solo. After this delicious item, 'Canción Para un Solo Día' brings a similar cadence, albeit with an enhanced touch of fusion that equally shares the arrangement's weight with the symphonic element. The featured presence of guest violin and cello helps to develop an optimistic atmosphere throughout the whole track. If the first two tracks were portraits of thoughts and reflections illuminated by the light of the inner self, tracks 3 and 4 are more extroverted, as colorful portraits of exotic landscapes illuminated by the light of the sun. At this point, let me confess that this album was my first JLFL experience, and by the time I was in the middle of track 4, I felt myself becoming a devote fan (little did I know that this guy's discography was far beyond this particular trend, but through the years my appreciation only grew and it continues to grow nowadays). 'Abismo' follows in the same celebratory trend of 'Canción', but with a bigger dose of energy: the rhythm pattern is evidently based on Mexican folk, but the instrumentation goes beyond the usual realms of fusion by adding clever violin/clarinet interplaying and a couple of furious (yet controlled) synth solos. There is also an almost-Hackettish guitar solo there. 4 minutes of pure, constant progressiveness. But how about an 18- minute span of this very thing, progresiveness? The listener will soon be served with 'Los Designios de Géminis', the epitome of the album's main scheme: symphonic prog replete with folk-prog elements and fusion colors. The multi-varied range of sonic resources (folk, spacey, Rennaisance, symphonic) under which the sections are modelled works beautifully as a unitary musical piece. Sometimes, an eerie section is used as a bridge: for example, the mysterious dreamy woodwind sounds that emerge at minute 6, before the organ gets in to build a mesmeric slow section with featured cello/clarinet. The last 8 3/4 minutes are occupied by 'Punta Cometa', which brings back the spirit of track 1, only with a more organized structure. It also includes eerie guitar and synth solos, as well as a brief spacey coda. I honestly regard Designios as a total prog masterpiece, but here comes a word of advice: this is not your typical JLFL album.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Wonderful album from this Mexican icon!

Yes, I said icon because Jose Luis Fernández Ledesma is a pillar in the Mexican progressive rock scene, we (who are familiar with this scene) know that in spite he is not really that recognized, don't even well-known, is a talented man who has been working for several years, creating high-quality music that should be better known and of course recognized. My work here, is to give him back a little bit of what he has done, so I hope my words help.

Fernández Ledesma is known for his musical skills, he is capable of playing (well) several instruments, also for creating wonderful atmospheres in his music, which is a combination of symphonic music with avant-garde. In 2003 he released this great record entitled "Designios", an album that consists on seven compositions that make a total time of 56 minutes of excellent Mexican prog rock.

For his solo albums, he also recruited Margarita Botello, a talented singer who later would be part of Saena, another excellent band. Well, now let's get back to Designios. It is worth mentioning that Ledesma pays tribute to his former band Nirgal Vallis with a couple of tracks here: "Abismo" and "Los Designios de Géminis". So the album opens with "Ave Luz", a great opener track for a great album. Botello's voice is charming and sweet, while Ledesma´s guitar creates wonderful atmospheres accompanied by delicious percussions, and brilliant winds (all played by the self Ledesma).

"Muro Ciego" is the shortest composition, but colorful and rich nonetheless. Since the first seconds we can listen to a Sastur, an instrument that I like a lot. The atmosphere is a bit weird, it keeps a repetitive sound while Botello is delicately singing, and it continues until it finishes, but the thing is that while the seconds pass, new elements not easy to perceive are sounding and adding their grain of sand.

"Saena" is the name of the third song, and also the name that Ledesma and Botello used to create this band I told you earlier. This is the first song with guest musicians, one of them is Alejandro Sánchez (later member of the so called Saena) on violin. This song starts with a complete symphonic sound due to the keyboards, however later it turns folkish and prints different images with several colors. The percussion sound is fantastic, and all the instruments together transport us to another land, and maybe another era. The song little by little is building a structure, it is like reading a novel, I foresee what's next and open my mind to it. Wonderful song!

"Canción para un solo día" is another great track that really shows Fernández Ledesma's skills and quality as a composer and performer. The rhythm is beautiful, a charming and pleasant sound is shared through the track, and this can be exampled after three minutes with the appearance of a cello, making an even more solid song. I like the final minute and how the music seems to be fading out, when all of a sudden it arises.

A wonderful folk sound is evoked in "Abismo", the use of maracas and acoustic guitar makes it evident. Also there is a great clarinet sound that interplays with violin. Just before the third minute, the song becomes stronger due to the keyboard sound and drums that create a fabulous piece of art. When you listen a song like this, you cannot hide your satisfaction, because believe me, this is really a first-class track.

Was I talking about first-class music? Then wait to listen to this 18-minute epic called "Los designios de Géminis" which will left you speechless. In this song you will find a considerable amount of sounds, colors, textures, skins, nuances, images, etc., it is that kind of song in which you can have a complete trip around the world, I mean, you are moving while the music sounds, your mind is secretly travelling through the notes and accompanying these designios (designs). Let the music flow, let it rule and take your senses, let it do what it wants to you, and when it finishes, you will feel deeply pleased, satisfied, loved. There is a vast number of adjectives that a song like this can have, but well, after all, this is only me, it is subjective, but I bet you will understand my position once you carefully listen to it. (Actually, once you listen to this whole album).

The album finishes with "Punta Cometa", a song that starts like a deep dream, a minute later the dream is over, time to wake up, so a new day is coming. The acoustic guitar sound is great and perfectly works together with Botello's beautiful voice, creating a charming atmosphere. The song is progressing while the minutes pass, though this time there are not noticeable changes, it is evident that different elements are being added little by little.

What a wonderful album, I am not wrong if I say it is one of the best Mexican albums ever, or at least, one of the best of those which I have listened to. So please people, take a listen to Jose Luis Fernández Ledesma and especially to this gem. You will not regret. So my final grade is five stars, and it feels good!

Enjoy it!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars If you ever see an album by this man please buy it. Fernandez Ledesma is a genius at arranging and composing music. I have the two albums that came out before this one and also his debut and all of them are not only amazing but different from one another.The common thread is that Avant- garde style. And to be honest that's what threw me when it came to "Designos" and that's why i'm listening to it for the fourth time today. I wasn't expecting such a Symphonic / Folk album with the vocals of Margarita playing such a major role. It's all so good though, I just had to accept the style and then sit back and listen. Lots of that today (haha). It's hard for me to put into words how emotional some of this music makes me feel.Sure there's lots of songs and passages that don't but man this is all good. What's amazing is that on the surface this seems less challenging and adventerous than his other recordings until you really listen and realize how complex the music and arrangements are. And the lyrics ! My God ! It may be sung in Spanish but when I read the English translations I was overwelmed with such imagery and poetry.

"Ave Luz" has these intricate acoustic guitar melodies as the flute joins in. A beat with vocals joins in quickly. "Salt scented and windy dream. A lost angel drowned by the shore, of shade and name each dawn reminds me; same old days of salt and sand". A calm before 3 minutes then it kicks back in to that earlier soundscape. Some absolutely moving passages here. "Muro Ciego" opens with percussion as a stringed instrument comes in then vocals.A bass horn I think follows in place of the vocals as they take turns.

"Saena" opens with keyboards as drums and synths join in.Great sound here. Flute and percussion follow then violin before 3 minutes.Vocal expressions before 6 1/2 minutes to end it. "Cancion Para Un Solo Dia" is uptempo to start and mostly throughout. Lots of percussion and vocals.Violin before 3 1/2 minutes. "Abismo" has lots of strings and ethnic instruments.Vocals before a minute in this folky track. My least favourite but there's some killer bass 2 minutes in followed by synths as the bass continues to throb.The second half is much better than the first half of this track.

"Los Designios De Cominis" is the almost 18 minute epic. Flute, bass and strummed guitar to start. Organ and vocals take over then it picks up after 2 minutes. Flute and synths lead after 4 minutes. It then kicks in. Love this part. A haunting calm before 6 1/2 minutes.Violin before 9 minutes as it stays mellow. It then builds to a full sound as the tempo and mood continue to shift. Another haunting calm after 12 minutes. It kicks in pretty hard 13 1/2 minutes in. Nice. Great track. "Punta Cometa" is another track like the opening one with lots of moving moments. Atmosphere to start then music a minute in and emotion as vocals join in.

This has really grown on me to the point where 4 stars seems to little. I just can't go higher than that yet. A must for Symphonic / Folk fans who like a little adventure thrown in.

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