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Ain Soph: Marine Menagerie (reissue)

Japan has long been praised for unearthing some of the best progressive rock and fusion music over the last 25 or so years. Alongside such greats as Kenso, Gerard, Ars Nova, Ruins, Side Steps, and KBB, one of the most classic of all Japanese bands has to be Ain Soph, who in 1980 took the prog world by storm with their legendary A Story of Mysterious Forest. Ain Soph's mix of symphonic & melodic progressive rock (inspired by Camel) with the upbeat and quirky nature of the Canterbury scene, really has made a long lasting impression with fans over the years and kept their music alive and treasured by many. Marine Menagerie was the band's 1991 release, and reissued now by both the Musea and Poseidon labels. This album contains some stunning symphonic instrumental progressive rock, littered with tasty guitar and keyboard solos, never getting bombastic but just fiery enough to classify as fusion at times. Mirage and The Snow Goose era Camel comes to mind quite often here, especially on songs like "Flooded By Sun Light" and "Marine Menagerie", two breathtaking pieces with haunting melodies and ripping electric guitar, synthesizer, and piano solos. Ain Soph had some very accomplished players in their line-up who were quite capable of consistently delivering sophisticated and professional sounding music over the years-guitarist Yozox, keyboard player Kikuo Fujikawa, drummer Taigui, and bass player Masahiro Torigaki. The Canterbury style comes full force on "Variations On a Theme by Brian Smith", a harder edged song that recalls National Health, with aggressive rhythms and a heavier rock guitar tone from Yozox.

The two closing numbers, "Ride on a Camel" and "Metronome 7/8" are both near 14-minute epics, filled with dreamy keyboard passages and biting electric guitar work. Though the British prog rock and Canterbury influences can still be heard here, Ain Soph also lets some traditional Japanese flavors creep into their music, which adds a nice touch. Overall, this album, and any Ain Soph release, is an important part of progressive rock's rich history, and with this recent reissue is available for all to enjoy once again.

Track Listing
1. Wind and Water (0:33)
2. Flooded by Sun Light (7:18)
3. Marine Menagerie (10:38)
4. Little Pieces part 3 (1:27)
5. Variations On a Theme by Brian Smith(Original Version) (8:49)
6. Ride on a Camel(13:53)
7. Metronome 7/8 (13:43)
a) Peacock's Feather
b) Metronome 7/8

Added: March 11th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Musea Records
Hits: 2219
Language: english

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