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TRACK LIST: 1. Ave Luz 7:58 2. The Blind Wall 3:53 3. Saena 7:32 4. The One-day Song 6:36 5. Abyss 4:20 6. Designs of the Twins 17:53 7. Punta Cometa 8:44 All music: by JLFLQ, except 1: by Botello / JLFLQ. All lyrics: by JLFLQ, except: 2: by Botello / JLFLQ & 6: by L-G de los Monteros. Arrangements: by JLFLQ & Nirgal Vallis / JLFLQ. Vocal arrangements: by Botello. LINE-UP: Jose Luis Fernandez Ledesma Q - - electric, acoustic, & bass guitars, mandolin; - synthesizers, organ, & piano; flute; percussion Margarita Botello - - vocals; autoharp; percussion With NIRGAL VALLIS: Raul Flores - percussion instruments (on 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7) Hernan Hecht - drums (on 3, 4, 5, & 6) Julio Sandoval - bass (on 5 & 7) Fernando Dominguez - clarinets (on 5 & 6) Vitali Romanov - cello (on 4 & 6) Vera Kulkova - violin (on & 5) Angela Aldama - violin (on 3) Manuel Ugarte - flute (on 6) Produced by JLFLQ. Engineered by JLFLQ & Botello.
Jose Luis Fernandez is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding figures of the Mexican Progressive Rock movement. "Designios" ("Designs", of course) is the eighth official album by Fernandez, and here is the DISCOGRAPHY of this remarkable composer and multi-instrumentalist:
Synopsis. Wow! No, I'd better keep my transports for the Conclusion. Well, on "Designios", Fernandez turned towards a Classic Symphonic Art-Rock sound, which, as far as I know, he did for the first time. There are nine tracks on the album, eight of which are songs, though most of them feature much more of purely instrumental arrangements than vocally instrumental ones. Alone, Fernandez and Margarita Botello, whose vocals are very touching on this album, performed only the first two songs here: Ave Luz (Ave Louisa) and The Blind Wall. Both of them are richer in vocals than any of the further songs on "Designios" and are about a semi-acoustic Symphonic Art-Rock with the pronounced elements of music of Mexican Indians. Although both of the following tracks: Saena and The One-day Song (3 & 4) are of the same stylistics overall, there are lesser exotic tunes on them. (The first of them is the only instrumental composition here and features only a couple of episodes with vocalize.) These two, as well as Abyss and Designs of the Twins (5 & 6), were performed by most of the members of the line-up on "Designios" and are distinguished by large-scaled, hard-edged, diverse, intricate, and highly intriguing instrumental arrangements. Apart from those of traditional Rock instruments, including drums, all of them feature the parts of violins, flute, and piano, though the solos and passages of acoustic guitars remain here almost as notable as they are on the first two tracks on the album. (The parts of acoustic guitars play actually a very significant role on "Designios".) On Abyss and Designs of the Twins, there are only the pale shades of music of Mexican Indians, and stylistically, they represent a purely classic, yet, just incredibly fresh and original Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Classical Music, Baroque music, and Prog-Metal. The latter elements are especially evident on Designs of the Twins, which, IMHO, is the best of the epics created after 1977 (here, I mean "Animals" by Pink Floyd) and is on par with most of the sidelong masterworks released in the first half of the 1970s. Magic is the word. (This word though, sounds topical with regard to the entire album.) A unique fusion of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock and Classical Music is presented also on the last track here: Punta Cometa, but it doesn't feature any stylistic 'makeweights'.
Conclusion. It can't be denied that while working on the "Designios" album, Fernandez has made every effort to do the impossible - to create something really new within the framework of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. And he did it! The hero of this review is a classic Symphonic Art-Rock album that any of the Titans of the 1970s would be proud of. This is a rare masterpiece and, in my honest opinion, the best Fernandez album to date. Furthermore, along with Rush's "Power Windows", "Path of Dreams" by Garden Wall, Marillion's "Brave", "Roaring Forties" by Peter Hammill, and French TV's "A Case Against Art", I regard "Designios" as one of the best and most original Classic Symphonic Art-Rock albums since UK's "Danger Money" (1979).
VM: April 28, 2003
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