Exposé Online banner

Saena — Saena
(Luna Negra CDLN-37, 2008, CD)

José Luis Fernández Ledesma — Híbridos
(Musea FGBG 4738.AR, 2007, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-10-01

Saena Cover artHíbridos Cover art

Every new release by José Luis Fernández Ledesma seems to be like none before it, and his latest solo disc, Híbridos, is no exception. Primarily a solo venture, with singer Margarita Botello joining on most cuts (also playing accordion), with other musicians making guest appearances on various tracks, including sax and trumpet player Germán Bringas and violinist Alejandro Sánchez. The set contains a dozen pieces, typically of song length (although there are a couple 10 minute odysseys herewithin), each a vignette of sorts featuring a unique collection of instrumentation, often a mix of electric keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussives, kalimba, ethnic instruments, flutes, bells, zither, santoor, accordion, electronics, found sounds, and other surprises. The voices are provided by both Botello and JLFL, although they are mostly inspired wordless vocal excursions. Bringas’ massed trumpets and saxes provide highlights on the few tracks where he is featured. The overall sound here is very active and full of energy, yet a bit dreamy and introspective at times. Stylistically it shifts around a lot as well, but tends to remain uncategorizable throughout its duration. In some respects, it’s quite adventurous and a bit like soundtrack music in scope; comparisons with efforts like Wonderwall might even be in order, except Híbridos sounds nothing like that, instead sticking with a more homegrown ethnic vibe.

Saena, which involves JLFL as both composer and multi-instrumentalist, as well as Botello (this time handling nearly all the vocals, piano, and accordion), and Sánchez, is a full band project also featuring Stick player and bassist Hugo Santos and drummer Adrian Zarate. It is equally adventurous and imbued with a similar world-ethnic vibe, but due to the additional instrumentation and involvement of all five musicians on nearly every cut, it tends to add more of an instantaneous live groove to the proceedings, and often finds a somewhat folky sound due to the prominence of the violin and accordion. This time out, the vocals have Spanish lyrics, and the songs are bristling with live energy – and as always, the result tends to be very progressive and uncategorizable. Botello’s voice just soars skyward, captivating the imagination, becoming the focal point of the ensemble, though she leaves plenty of room for the other instrumentalists to have numerous moments in the spotlight, as well as the full band arrangements that tend to highlight the interplay between keyboards, violin, and the rhythm section. All taken, the result is beautiful and positively brilliant. Their live appearance at a major festival in Mexico City this year bodes well for this band’s future, and hopefully this self-titled disc will be the first of many to come. Both discs highly recommended.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2008 releases, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Margarita Botello, José Luis Fernández Ledesma Q, Saena, Germán Bringas

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Trem do Futuro - Trem do Futuro – If I'd had the chance to hear it last year, this would have been among my top 10 of '95. The six men that make up Trem do Futuro have a wonderous gift for melody and arrangement that any...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues