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Saena Saena album cover
3.99 | 22 ratings | 7 reviews | 23% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2008

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Astromelia (8:44)
2. Equinoccio (9:01)
3. Venenos y Antídotos (12:12)
4. Playa Desierta (7:44)
5. Cosecha (6:56)
6. Estación de las 12 (6:02)
7. Final del Juego (7:19)
8. Octubre (10:10)

Total Time: 68:08

Line-up / Musicians

- Margarita Botello / vocals, piano, accordion, percussion
- José Luis Fernández Ledesma / electric & acoustic guitars, piano, synth
- Alejandro Sanchez / violin
- Hugo Santos / bass
- Adrian Zarate / drums

Releases information

CD Luna Negra ‎- CDLN-37 (2008, France)

Thanks to Cesar Inca for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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SAENA Saena ratings distribution

(22 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SAENA Saena reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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.
Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Viva Mexico!

Shame on me my last review for a Mexican band was several months ago but now i am here with a big smile in my face, introducing to you an awesome band called Saena.

The first time i listened to them was the last year in a festival that took part in the city of Queretaro, they played along with my beloved Cabezas de Cera and the outstanding spanish band Amarok, but well...i remember i was eagerly waiting for Saena's show since i knew it was a new project by mastermind Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma, who is one of the prog icons in the mexican scene, and it was amazing how their music caught me immediately and nowadays when i know they are giving a concert i do not hesitate in attending, despite their repertoire is limited.

In the first months of this 2008, Saena released their first and self titled album and gave concert for the introduction of it, of course i bought it immediately and had a nice talk with some of the members. Saena is composed by 5 extremely talented musicians who in the past have playe with other bands or projects, as i mentioned before we have Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma as the brain of the band, Margarita Botello who is the singer (she sings in various JLFL albums), Alejandro Sanchez who was the violin player of RIO band Nazca, Hugo Santos who is a master of the stick, all of them veteran and experimented musicians, along with Adrian Zarate who is the drummer and the youngest of the band, not for that less experimented.

All together gave their best and created this sensational album that contains 8 songs with an average of 8 minutes each, that will give you more than an hour of exciting new music.

The album opens with Astromelia, an almost 10-minute track that perfectly represents the band's music so it is probable that your attention will be taken since this very first song, but well let me confess you something, for some strange reason what i consider the weakest point in several mexican bands (including Saena) are the female vocals, not bad at all but it's not precisely the most beautiful. But well the song begins with the singer's vocals (no lyrics) great musical arrangements with an excellent bass playing and the superb violin sound created by Sanchez. The song marks a lot of progressions that make a folkish sound sometimes, an avant garde one on other moments, but what predominates after all is the symphonic side of prog.

Equinoccio starts with an accordeon followed by a constant violin playing and for the first time vocals with lyrics, this seems to be a happy song with a kind of a gypsy flavour in some moments, it has some softer moments that are an interaction between violin (mainly) and the other instruments, at the half of the song, you will listen to some paused moments that opens the door to a great drum solo, a very enjoyable song.

Next we have the longest track of the album and probably one of the best ones, which is named Venenos y Antidotos, opens again with a quick accordion sound just in order to become softer right away, then it changes again and again it has a more noticeable piano sound credit by singer Margarita Botello who is a woman with talent in her blood, there is a part of the song that reminds me to another Mexican band called La Pura Realidad, some of you have already listened to them as well. Continuing with this song, after 5 minutes it has a noticeable change of direction where you will listen to a hidden bass sound with some strange sounds here and there, the progressiveness of this song is outstanding! Then in the last part it returns to their main structure made in the first part.

Playa Desierta has a flavour of uncertainty, the atmosphere created will transmit you a lot , so you will be involved with the song which basically is an acoustic guitar oriented one, and where you will listen synchronized vocals by Botello and Fernandez Ledesma, there is a part qhere the piano spredominates and gives it that symphonic sound. The song basically follows the same line all the way, until the end where there is a most aggressive moment.

Cosecha begins with a piano sound that since the very first moment reminded me to Renaissance, the first minutes are kind of slow, but then since minute 2 the song becomes more exciting with great musical arrangements and that symphonic sound which at the same time shares the moment with some obscure eclectic tunes.

Estacion de las 12 lasts 6 minutes and it's the shortest song of the album and features a brilliant violin playing that is always in the precise moment, after a moody start, the song turns into a chapter of pure beauty, while there is a constant guitar sound and a perfect drumming, we will hear to the singer's chanting along with a great background, this is a track that i adore of course it is one of my favourites.

Final del Juego is a mellower track just in the beginning because there is all of a sudden a terrific change to a somber mood that transformates this song into a completeley avant-garde one, as a matter of fact, there is a part where i feel nervous and that is just provoked by the music, that takes me as a part of a whole. The song is filled with Botello's chanting and excellent instrumental figures, everyone is playing his own role in order to make a solid and unique sound.

Octubre, sadly everything has it's end, this is the last song of the album and a great closer song that begins with that accordion sound that some seconds later is accompanied by an extraordinary stick playing, constant drums and the superb violin sound. Since the first third of the song, i sense the way of saying goodbye to the album, something strange but that is just provoked by the music itself, as i have mentioned, the interplay between the musicians is excellent, despite Ledesma's leadership, we cannot take just one member as the principal musician, since all of them cooperate with ther skills, enthusiasm and creativity.

That said, this album has no weak moments actually, but i believe you may get bored in some moments for instance i think there are some alike parts between songs 5 to 7, and despite i love it and am happy everytime i listen to it, it doesn't make me scream as a 5-star album would do, so my final grade will be 4 stars, if someday the .5 star rating is implemented, i would edited to 4.5. Highly recommendable for prog fans, symphonic prog fans will be pleased with this.

In a side note, yesterday Mexico celebrated another anniversary of our Independence, and what a better way to share my happiness with you, than reviewing one of the best mexican albums that has seen the light lately. So again, Viva Mexico!

Enjoy it!

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What a breath of fresh air this album is. Saena are 5 talented musicians from Mexico and this is at present their only album though from the sound they skilfully produce its clear there's no lack of experience here. They produce a refreshing blend of symphonic Prog with classical, folk and jazz touches and a latin flavour, most noticeable with the vocals of Margarita Botello which are often without words, becoming more of an additional instrument. The instrumentation is often acoustic based - acoustic guitars, piano, accordion, drums and violin; the violin in particular being dominant in their sound much of the time. It's not all acoustic though with bass guitar, electric guitar and keyboards adding to the sound.

Musically the album has a similar feel throughout and without going into detail of every track opener Astromelia is as good a representation of Saena's sound as any. Opening with Botello's wordless vocals the band come in, expertly weaving piano, guitar, bass, violin and drums with a light touch weaving all the afore mentioned influences into the sound and at almost 9 minutes giving ample scope for the musicians to stretch out.

The album is enjoyable for its entire 68 minute length but personal favourites are the 12 minute Venenos Y Antidotos with its jazz inflected piano and swooping violin part. Drummer, Adrian Zarate adds a subtle light jazz touch perfectly in keeping with the overall sound. Cosecha has a beautiful haunting melody, heavily piano and violin based alongside Botello's vocals until changing tack as electric guitar comes, which has a bit of a King Crimson feel, alongside organ, violin, bass and drums turning it into one of the albums most dynamic pieces. Final Del Juego offers a bit of diversification from the prevalent feel of the album with an almost dischordant guitar riff at times, piano, violin, bass and drums expertly weaving around it - once again having a bit of a King Crimson feel to it in places.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cd and anyone wanting to experience some symphonic prog with a difference would be advised to check out Saena. I'll certainly have no hesitation in buying their next album, this one being a strong contender to make my top 10 albums of 2008.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I have to thank memowakeman for bringing this band to my attention. I remember talking to him after discovering quite by accident Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma. I was so excited after listening to Ledesma's debut that i've since bought a few more of his albums. This band SAENS is really a continuation of Ledesma's work, as the whole band here has played on his solo records at some point. Of note of course is female singer Margarita Botello who is almost like Ledesma's right arm, as she has accompanied him on his albums and is really his musical partner. She also plays the accordion, organ and piano. I must say that the vioin and accordion play an important role in the sound here. The band took their name from a song off of Ledesma's "Designios" album.

"Astromelia" is my favourite on here. It took a lot of listens but now it's owns my heart. It's melancholic to open with violin and vocal melodies.The tempo picks up and this sounds so good when the guitar and drums come in. She just keeps singing these wordless melodies throughout. Piano and a brighter sound before 4 1/2 minutes. Intricate guitar a minute later. Violin joins in and I love the sound before 7 minutes. The violin really takes the lead late. "Equinoccio" opens with guitar, accordion, violin, drums then vocals. Check out her singing 1 1/2 minutes in,accordion follows.Talented lady. Lots of violin. Vocal melodies before 3 1/2 minutes. Violin replaces the vocals then the drums take the spotlight 5 minutes in. She's back after 6 1/2 minutes. "Venenos Y Antidotos" is the longest song at over 12 minutes, it's more laid back with reserved vocals. I like this one a lot. Accordion before 1 1/2 minutes then piano comes in. Violin's turn. Actually vocal melodies and violin come and go. The tempo slows as it gets dark 5 minutes in. It's brighter after 8 minutes when the piano returns. Violin and accordion follow. Vocal melodies 9 minutes in then violin and drums end it.

"Playa Desierta" opens with the sound of water as guitar and piano follow. Violin after 2 minutes. Vocals a minute after that as piano becomes prominant with drums. Just a gorgeous track. "Cosecha" features lots of piano, vocals and violin. It settles 1 1/2 minutes in. Vocals are passionate. Interesting soundscape after 2 1/2 minutes as violin plays over top. Angular guitar before 4 minutes (I couldn't help but think of Nicklas Barker) then violin takes over. Nice sound. More angular guitar and vocal melodies late. "Estacion De Las 12" is led by the violin as guitar plays along. It changes before 1 1/2 minutes as vocals come in with accordion. I love her vocals on this one. "Final Del Juego" opens with violin and piano. It kicks into gear before a minute. Great sound. The violin is fabulous 3 minutes in. Vocal melodies after 4 minutes and guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. "Octubre" opens with a blistering accordion attack. Kidding ! It does open with accordion though before a full sound arrives before a minute. Vocal melodies after 2 minutes.The tempo picks up eventually. The vocal melodies sound so good after 8 minutes.

Anything that Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma is involved with is worth checking out. He is a very talented man.The whole band especially Margarita give an outstanding performance. One of the best of 2008.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Very strong and original band from mexico. An execellent mix of classic prog, jazz, fusion and some latin music put together for some great effect. I don´t have much to add to Cesar Inca´s and Memowakeman´s length, detalied reviews, so mine will be a brief one.

All say is that I was quite surprised from what I heard. The music is surely complex, well crafted and very well played. Margarita Botello´s voice and Alejandro Sánchez´s violin are the main atractions here, along with great keyboards passages and a firm and precise rhyhtm section. Although I´m not really a jazz rock/fusion fan I can´t deny their talent to write consistent, strong pieces of music that defies any categorization. It´s their first but you won´t find any amateurism here. In fact they sound so personal and cohesive you´ll think you´re dealing with a band that has years and years playing and recording together.

Saena is definitly a band to watch for. If you´re looking for some intricated, jazz tinged prog music with lots of personality, don´t waste any more time and buy this CD. Olé, hermanos!

Review by progrules
3 stars Once again I will have to restrain myself not to start a debate in my review about the accuracy of the subgenre our teams put a band in. With Saena we have another "tough to pigeonhole" case one might say. When I see symphonic prog I have different expectations from what I hear playing this album. Eclectic prog or even prog folk is more what I have in mind when I listen to this output.

Saena sounds a bit like a mixture of Thieves Kitchen (The Water Road !) and Minimum Vital. Well, Minimum Vital is actually French whilst Saena come from Mexico so the comparison isn't 100% logic but still it feels that way. The instrumental handling are both dissonant and melodic which is strange because usually it's one of both. The female vocals by Margarita Botello are dissonant most of the time and I have to say this is not my cup of tea. Yet it all sounds distinguished and not messy or sloppy. Maybe I'm confusing dissonant with complexity of melodies here because the melodies are pretty hard to digest. Funny enough Saena is similar in this respect to French neoband Saens (note the just one letter difference :)

All in all Saena is too good to go down with a two star verdict. It's what I had in mind actually every time I listened to this album. But then it would be a total reflection of my personal taste and it would leave out all the positive elements this band and music have. And that wouldn't be fair really. So I will pay my respect for the band and for all reviewers so far who are probably more right than I am (all gave 4* so far). But I have to let my personal taste play a role as well so I will settle for three stars in the end. Recommended for fans of mentioned bands and for those who like the more extraordinary sorts of prog. Don't expect anything harmonic melodic music as is common in most symphonic prog though (hence my comments in first paragraph).

Latest members reviews

4 stars With the prominent violin and the progressive jazz fusion style, this debut album by the Mexican band known as Saena actually reminds me a lot of Japanese bands like KBB, Ain Soph and even Kenso. (All fantastic bands, by the way.) Along with violin, there is plenty of piano, accordion, bass (Cha ... (read more)

Report this review (#2439361) | Posted by Squire Jaco | Wednesday, August 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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