Ah, the classy, sophisticated, & lush progressive rock sounds of Japanese legends Ain Soph. There's really nothing like it in the world of prog. 5 or 9-Five Evolved From Nine is the bands 1993 release, lovingly reissued here by Musea & Poseidon. If you are new to the sounds of Ain Soph, they differ drastically from some of the other bands from Japan like Gerard, Side Steps, Ars Nova, KBB, and Ruins, but have probably more in common with Kenso due to their sounds being more of a symphonic jazz fusion or even Canterbury style. While earlier albums, especially their debut A Story of Mysterious Forest, were sweeping and grandiose examples of progressive rock and fusion littered with soaring Mellotron and guitars, over time they really upped the ante as far as the Canterbury and fusion styles, and the album under review here is especially indicative of this style.
Half the songs on 5 or 9-Five Evolved From Nine are in the 8+ minute range, epic tracks filled with dreamy keyboards, searing guitar solos, and tight rhythms. Each and every track is strong, but the highlights are really the wild guitar and keyboard interplay of "The Valley of Lutha", the classy jazz piece 'The Two Orders of Image", the symphonic prog masterpiece "Ancient Museum", the calming and gentle keyboard drenched "Shadow Picture", and the closing near 12-minute epic "Stonehenge". This last piece will thrill lovers of 70's fusion bands like Return to Forever, National Health, and Weather Report. Guitarist Yozox is a master at melodic phrasing and fiery, emotional outbursts, and he really shows his tasty technique on the short solo piece "Little Wind". In addition, the keyboard arsenal of Kikuo Fujikawa includes many different synths and piano, making for a lush and orchestral wall of sound that really complements the music well from a melodic standpoint in addition to him adding many nimble solos. The rhythm section of Masahiro Torigaki on bass and Taiqui on drums has a solid jazz style together and keep things heavily focused.
Once again Musea and Poseidon have done the progressive rock world a favor by reissuing another classic of the genre. If you haven't yet investigated the wonderful sounds of Ain Soph, don't you think the time is now?
1) Villa Adriana (2:16)
2) The Two Orders of Image (8:21)
3) Fragments From the Pass (1:51)
4) Ancient Museum (9:28)
5) Seascape (Little Pieces Part 4) (3:04)
6) The Valley of Lutha (9:40)
7) Shadow Picture (10:15)
8) Little Wind (2:31)
9) Stonehenge (11:23)