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Tracklist: 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 imagenes 24:39 8. El enyerbao 4:29 All tracks: by J. L. Fernandez-Ledesma Quintana. Line-up: Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma Q - acoustic, electric, & bass guitars; keyboards & piano; flutes; autoharp; percussion; vocals Margarita Botelo - vocalizes; synthesizer; percussion With: Raul Flores - percussion & drums German Bringas - soprano sax Produced by M. Botelo & JLFLQ. Engineered by JLFLQ.
"Al Filo" is the sixth album by one of the most fruitful (by all means) progressive performers to come out of Mexico, Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma Quintana. Three of Jose Luis's albums, including this one, were released through Mexico's premier Progressive Rock label "Luna Negra". You can read the reviews of the other two albums by Fernandez either within the Overall View on all the albums that have ever been released by "Luna Negra" or separately, - by choosing any of the following links.
The Album. Jose Luis Fernandez is one of those amazing performers who are capable of continuously transforming their style. In that way, each of the albums that have ever been released by Jose Luis sounds very fresh, at least. "Al Filo", however, is quite radically different from anything that was created by this talented composer and multi-instrumentalist before. It would be hard for me to describe the stylistics of this album as a whole. I only know that with the exception of one piece, the contents of "Al Filo" have, overall, nothing to do with any of Progressive's classic four genres. As most of you, dear readers, know, I refer all the highly unusual works to Fifth Element. However, knowing that most of those albums are very different among themselves, I can't use the name of the Fifth Element genre as a stylistic definition of any album that doesn't fit any of the classic genres and sub-genres of Prog, all of which have a rather determinate framework. Like the universe itself, the current Progressive Rock movement (and Academic Music as well, by the way) is constantly widening and branching off the established forms and genres. So the 'discovery' of Progressive's Fifth Element genre was, in my view, really justified. I see it as more or less a suitable niche for the most innovative (or, vanguard, I'd say) performers - at least until someone would classify all the new directions of progressive music, the number of which, though, is growing continuously. Back to "Al Filo", the only 'exception' that I was talking about in the beginning of this paragraph, is Presencias (track 2). This is 'our typical' classic instrumental piece performed on an acoustic guitar. (The presence of such pieces in the major Classic Art-Rock albums in the heyday of this genre was almost essential.) Once, in the review of Grosso Modo's debut album, which was released the same month as "Al Filo", I was explaining the development of arrangements on the background of the stagnant and even 'stark' (or 'frozen') solos. (Certainly, both Peter Verloemes of Grosso Modo and Juan Jose Fernandez have discovered that new approach to the formation of such music sculptures separately. Yeah, all the physical theorems that have the 'double' names were discovered the same or similar way.) The album's opening track, Las siete columnas, is entirely dedicated to an experiment on various correlation between the 'normally' moving, incredibly slow moving (yeah), and completely inert structures, all of which, on the whole, are rather dark. (In fact, each composition on the album is marked with the dark shades - at least partly.) The fifth composition, El Triangulo, can easily remind you of a never-ending calm that prevails in the heart of Bermudan Triangle and is isolated from the outer world by unshakable walls of the terrible and endless storms. However, these 'incredibly slow' and dark waters don't leave their way: they always move forward. In other words, the arrangements on El Triangulo are definitely progressive. Instead of looking for Prog somewhere beyond the speed of sound (that many of the Prog-Metal bands are always aspiring to) Fernandez moved towards the zero speed and found that the progressive forms can exist there as well. (Some time, the splitting of the atom seemed to be impossible as well.) The experiments that I was talking about while describing the first track on the album are also present in the first halves of both of its closing tracks, Las cuatro imagenes and El enyerbao. These parts, though, last 10 and 2 minutes respectively. What's interesting is that the second halves of both of these tracks are, structurally, similar among themselves as well. Stylistically, they represent a blend of Classic Art-Rock, Jazz-Fusion, and the Latin American tunes with elements of Avant-garde. The arrangements, consisting of diverse and mostly up-tempo interplay between solos of electric and bass guitars, saxophone, synthesizer, and a few of the hand percussive instruments, including marimba, and passages (!) of acoustic guitar are there positively eclectic and very powe
Summary. While especially radically, "Al Filo" differs only from both of Fernandez's previous albums, most of the traditional connoisseurs of his creation may be disappointed with the contents of this album after the first time listening to it. However, such profound Prog-lovers as those who're really into the music of Fernandez and the likes well know that they have to believe their experience, but not the first impression they gain during the first listen to any of the complex works. Being in many ways a real experimental album, "Al Filo" won't have a huge success. However, the most adventurous listeners, especially those who are always eager to hear something innovative within the framework of Progressive Rock, should find their pleasure in this album.
VM. July 18, 2002
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