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AIN SOPH

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Japan


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Ain Soph biography
Founded in Japan in 1980 ( known before as "Tenchi Sozo") - Still active as of 2018

Instrumental band from Japan who plays a very interesting and intricate music, a real salad of styles, navigating over jazz fusion, symphonic prog and Canterbury Sound. This group plays a chamber and fusion Progressive rock in the style of KENSO, HATFIELD AND THE NORTH and CAMEL. Hard to imagine such sound? What are you waiting for... go listen to the band!

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AIN SOPH discography


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AIN SOPH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.99 | 107 ratings
A Story of Mysterious Forest
1980
3.90 | 53 ratings
Hat And Field
1986
3.20 | 29 ratings
Marine Menagerie
1991
2.80 | 16 ratings
5 Or 9 - Five Evolved From Nine
1992
3.94 | 9 ratings
Seven Colours
2018

AIN SOPH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.44 | 20 ratings
Ride on a Camel - Special Live
1991
2.49 | 9 ratings
Mysterious Triangle - Special Live,Vol.2
1993
3.00 | 5 ratings
Quicksand - Special Live Vol.3
1994

AIN SOPH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AIN SOPH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.29 | 5 ratings
Studio Live Tracks '80s And '05
2007

AIN SOPH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

AIN SOPH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Story of Mysterious Forest by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.99 | 107 ratings

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A Story of Mysterious Forest
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Squire Jaco

4 stars Ain Soph was an instrumental band known for their jazz rock/fusion leanings, but "A Story of Mysterious Forest" also included so some traditional progressive rock passages that didn't recur on their subsequent albums.

References to other bands spring to mind frequently while listening to this album. It charges out of the gate with a short scorcher in the Mahavishnu Orchestra style, then settles into more of a Happy The Man-meets-Al DiMeola groove for a few songs, before mixing Camel, Pink Floyd (circa "Wish You Were Here") and Brand X together in the 18-minute suite that bears the name of the album.

That suite is an unusual one - it starts with 3 minutes of space prog that borders on "Christmas interlude" music before settling into a neat Camel-like main theme with some excellent Andy Latimer/David Gilmour guitar lines. The mood is mostly dark on this suite, and you will get your fill of mellotron. With about 4 minutes left, though, the tempo suddenly changes to a Caribbean dance party (!) for a minute, before revisiting a few of the prior themes of the suite and closing out. The transitions between themes in this part of the suite seemed clumsy and forced to me, but I liked the idea of tying in all the previous sections.

Forget about all the band similitudes and just enjoy this album. It's kind of short (41:50) by today's standards, but it sure filled a nice void in the 1980-era prog/fusion arena. Worthy addition to your Japanese prog collection.

 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.90 | 53 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Wonderful Canterbury-inspired instrumental jazz fusion from Japan featuring some highly skilled (and classically trained) musicians in this reboot of the 1980 band that released the highly acclaimed (but more classically-oriented) A Story of Mysterious Forest.

1. "The Swan Lake" (5:45) quite CAMEL-esque (and quite nice). (9.5/10)

2. "Little Pieces part 1" (1:34) Fender Rhodes and synth washes. Pretty. (4.25/5)

3. "Suite - Hat and Field" (10:02) a beautiful and highly engaging suite. (18.5/20): - a) Triple Echo - opens with a FOCUS feel--with some tinges of Spanish and classical influences. - b) Hat & Field - other than the Jan Akkerman-like guitar play, this movement does have some Hatfield and the North feel to it. - c) Deep Feelin' - like this section with its acoustic guitar lead and rich keyboard and bass support (a little like something from Narada Michael Walden solo albums of the late 70s/early 80s) - d) Triple End - keys (Fender Rhodes) get the triple effect this time. - e) Spanish Channel - Not to sure about the "Spanish-ness" of this movement--other than a kind of tribute to Santa Esmeralda.

4. "Mizzle" (3:41) very tight whole-band jazz-rock fusion with everybody showing their skills and discipline. The drums are especially awesome but the bass track feels a little off-set. (8.75/10)

5. "Canterbury Tale" (for Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair) (2:57) sounds rife for some Richard Sinclair vocal whimsy. (8.5/10)

6. "Magic Carpet" (6:57) some sophisticated time and polyrhythms conjure up the tighter songs on KING CRIMSON's Discipline but then move more into the realm of RETURN TO FOREVER. Nice melodies and performances throughout. The keyboardist's sounds and styles bear a striking resemblance to those of Chick Corea while the guitarist is more akin to Larry Coryell (to my ears). (13.5/15)

7. "Little Pieces part 2" (2:31) repeat configuration of the previous "Little Pieces" piece with a little more developed ABACAB structure. (4.25/5)

8. "Pipe Dream" (7:53) though starting out leaning to some of the more serious jazz-oriented Canterbury artists (like Hatfield, Gilgamesh, and later Soft Machine), the second section that begins at 3:50 is something straight out of a Camel album. Interesting amalgam! (13.75/15)

Total Time: 41:20

While all the players are deserving of praise and superlatives, I kept finding my ear paying attention to the drums and bass play. Great mastery of cymbal play from the former and nice melodic lines from the latter. The guitarist and keyboard player feel more chameleonic--prone to be more imitative of others.

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music with a Jazz-Rock Fusion orientation.

 Seven Colours by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.94 | 9 ratings

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Seven Colours
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Soul2Create

4 stars Their best album by a mile.

I really liked their first album "A story of mysterious forest". It was a great mixture of jazz, symphonic and Canterbury elements, plus the guitar work reminded something in the middle of Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfield. This successful mix was apparently a consequence of the inclusion of multi-instrumentalist Masey Hattori, who left after that album. Unfortunately, and although the guitar work remained strong, the following works took a more traditional jazzy sound fused with the most bland Camel sound, which I don't like.

Surprisingly, this album retakes the Canterbury influences, with tons of flutes, organs and acoustic guitars (actually the name Hat and Field would have suited more for this album) and it sometimes reminds to Gilgamesh, Hatfield and the pastoral passages of Caravan. My favourite tracks are "Felix's Strange Bag-The Sower of the Systems" and "Seven Up". Recommended!

 A Story of Mysterious Forest by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.99 | 107 ratings

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A Story of Mysterious Forest
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars A four-star album easily. Imagine, that in 1980, when the crisis of progressive rock and fusion started to be apparent, a brilliant and imaginative album comes out in Japan! Any European country would have been thankful for such output at that time! Listening to this album, you can clearly recognize what guys liked listening to: Brand X and Return to Forever, among others. Ferocious moments owe a lot to Brand X, while more quiet and solemn moments such as on the last long track, bear traces of late Chick Corea on Return to Forever as well as even Collegium Musicum solemn wintery feeling (Konvergencie from 1970).

Keyboards dominate the album and are incredibly versatile. In one of the tracks, the keyboard sound changes from contemporary fusion to traditional bop within a second. Guitar is less prominent on this release, but has its electric and acoustic moments.

The first track is one of the best ones - a furious Brand X (76-77) inspired number that will rise your pressure and temperature. "Natural Selection" is another highlight with a semi-exotic and classic fusion track witha great Fender Rhodes piano soloing. The fourth track is reminiscent of Return of Forever and plenty of improvisation here by both keyboards and electric guitar. Unfortunately, the long title track is not cohesive and sounds unfocused at times. The impressive Christmas sounding symphonic organ beginning bursts into a drum workout with keyboard layers but after the first 5 minutes, the compositions loses its momentum and seem to be a disparate sequence of ideas that are not interconnected. In the end, the motives from the first 5 minutes creep in again.

If it wasn't for the last track, I would happily grant this album 5 stars, but it is a very solid 4-star rating in the end. One of the better fusion records of the 1980.

 A Story of Mysterious Forest by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.99 | 107 ratings

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A Story of Mysterious Forest
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars In a time when so many groups were abandoning an adventurous rock approach for something more straightforward and mainstream, the Eighties would prove that Japan still proudly carried the progressive rock flag, and that particular decade holds several standout acts and albums from that country. Late-Seventies act Ain Soph delivered their debut in 1980 (although a crudely recorded live demo `Ride on a Camel' under the name Tenchi Sozo with a slightly varied line-up popped up two years prior), and `A Story of Mysterious Forest' is a fully instrumental crossover of everything from jazz-rock/fusion with a side dollop of the Canterbury sound with symphonic grandness, psychedelic touches and a little classical pomp, all delivered with the technicality and professionalism that is a consistent characteristic of Japanese prog-related groups.

Opener `Crossfire's brisk fusion blasts of aggressive breakneck Mahavishnu Orchestra-like electric guitar shredding, gulping bass, delirious synth wig-outs and Brand X-ish peppy drumming are contrasted with `Interlude I's pretty acoustic guitar laments, bringing a welcome relief after the first few minutes of manic energy. Then it's straight into the first of a few longer pieces, `Natural Selection', with plenty of sprightly jazzy piano bursts, a Vangelis-like swoon to the synths and the most fleeting of nimble little guitar salvos back and forth spliced in here and there. `Variations on a Theme by Brian Smith' marries impulsive Renaissance-like classical piano dazzle and symphonic fanfare to skittering jazz-fusion sprints and a touch of drifting dream-like whimsy. With nods to National Health and Soft Machine peppered throughout, molten guitar eruptions saunter between electric piano/Mini-Moog noodling and some deliciously scratchy Mellotron slivers.

But it's side-long suite `A Story of Mysterious Forest' that will most have prog fans watering at the mouth like the epic-craving fiends they are! In its near-nineteen minute length, the fantastical ten- part title-track mostly takes a bit of a back-step from the furious jazz-fusion races but reveals several haunting themes that hold everything from a Gandalf-like colourful New Age gentleness, symphonic soundtrack elegance, Camel-modelled dreaminess and a touch of Rick Wakeman- esque prancing madrigal regality, and it's even a little playful and loopy here and there! Sure to be an album highlight for many listeners is a slow-burn and crisp Andy Latimar/David Gilmour- flavoured electric guitar solo that unfolds over several minutes and rises above sweetly humming organ and lilting Mellotron. The concluding `Interlude II' is then a warm acoustic come-down to close on.

A reworked line-up would be in place by the time 1986's superb follow-up `Hat and Field' arrived, but it's especially the reputation of this debut that persists and keeps Ain Soph being spoken about. There's truly something to appeal to so many different kinds of prog listeners scattered throughout `A Story of Mysterious Forest', and its strength is not only in its technical skill and musical diversity, but in how tightly composed whilst remaining melodic its pieces are but still allowing for deftly executed improvising runs. Listeners wanting a fine jazz-fusion/symphonic/Canterbury crossover disc should absolutely investigate this one immediately, and it's proof that there was still plenty of prog-rock gold being delivered in the Eighties.

Four stars.

 A Story of Mysterious Forest by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.99 | 107 ratings

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A Story of Mysterious Forest
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Ain Soph's debut album features an instrumental mashup of progressive rock and jazz. At points, the Japanese group turn out material reminiscent of the Canterbury style - logically enough, since much Canterbury material was characterised by a particular approach to prog-inclined jazz-rock - and in these moments the group joins the ranks of the likes of Supersister or Picchio dal Pozzo in terms of groups who, despite not even hailing from the UK, still produce something that feels like it's got that distinctive Canterbury style to it. At the same time, Ain Soph's sound is a bit more wider ranging, with more purely symphonic touches here and harder-edged moments of fusion there ensuring that things stay unpredictable.
 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.90 | 53 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Japanese instrumental four-piece Ain Soph released a greatly admired debut `A Story of Mysterious Forest' in 1980, and despite a reworked line-up here of departing and returning band members, their follow-up arrived six years later, entitled `Hat and Field'. Unsurprisingly, with that title, the band frequently performed music in the Canterbury sound style, but they were also just as likely to incorporate strong symphonic elements and plenty of fiery jazz-fusion, and it makes for an exciting and dynamic set with frequent moments of prettiness and soothing moods as well.

Hardly unexpected with a title like `The Swan Lake', the opener is a prancing symphonic swoon with jazzy soloing breaks, flecked ever so gently with a medieval fancy and touches of soft whimsy that reminds instantly of Camel and wouldn't have sounded out of place on their `Snow Goose' album. `Little Pieces part 1' is a low-key electric piano and dreamy synth interlude, but then it's all business for the ten minute, five-part `Suite - Hat and Field' epic. The band showcase an excellent use of reprising elegant and warmly embracing themes, many that again remind of Camel with the crisp electric guitar melodies, pristine acoustic interludes and serene synth airiness. A last minute blast of fuzzy keyboard wig-out busyness sees `Suite' oddly move right into `Mizzle' that closes out the first side, a frantic jazz-fusion race with plenty of twisting-turning heavy guitar snarls, rumbling drum tantrums and unravelling Seventies-flavoured Mini-Moog runs.

`Canterbury Tale (for Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair)' opens the second side, a cheerful and romantic symphonic devotion to the two Canterbury scene notables of chiming acoustic guitar magic and mellow electric guitar soloing, reminding of both Caravan and even Richard's time with Camel. `Magic Carpet' is a solo-heavy rocker, `Little Pieces part 2' a lovely piano reprise of the first part from the flip side, and the infectious closer `Pipe Dream' has a jazzy spring in its step and provides plenty of happy-go-lucky back-and-forth rollicking playfulness with fuzzy electric piano noodling and stirring Andy Latimar-flavoured guitar work full of dignity and grandness.

Admittedly a few short stretches come close to being just a little bland, and the Eighties production sometimes gives the music a slightly clinical sound (but hey, even real-deal Canterbury-related LP's like National Health's `D.S Al Coda' from the same decade occasionally suffered the same fate), but this is a hugely charming album, delivered with the technicality and professionalism that is a consistent characteristic of Japanese prog-related groups. Listeners wanting a fine jazz-fusion/symphonic/Canterbury crossover disc should absolutely investigate this one immediately.

Four stars.

 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.90 | 53 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is AIN SOPH's second album released some six years after their debut "A Story Of Mysterious Forest". I do prefer the 1980 debut as I gave it 4.5 stars but this one is well worth the 4 stars in my opinion. "Hat And Field" is an obvious reference to HATFIELD AND THE NORTH including the very cool album cover. There's also a song called "A Canterbury Tale(For Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair)", yet to my ears this is Jazz/ Rock Fusion all the way with them crossing the line into Symphonic and Canterbury the odd time. I wish the liner notes were in English as there's a lot of info but I appreciate the many pictures of the band, mostly in the studio.

"The Swan Lake" has a mellow intro that turns beautiful before a minute followed by a guitar led section, very enjoyable. Distorted keys replace the guitar and the bass is prominent here as well. The guitar is back leading and man that bass is good. A calm after 4 1/2 minutes but it's brief as that guitar led soundscape returns. "Little Pieces Part 1" and the second part later on were written by the keyboardist while pretty much everything else was written by the guitarist named Yozok. This short piece is piano and floating synths throughout.

"Suite: Hat And Field" is the longest piece at just over 10 minutes and it's divided into 5 sections. It hits the ground running with so much going on but then it stops as a guitar led melody takes over. Catchy stuff with some nice bass too. I like how themes are repeated throughout. We get an almost spacey vibe 4 1/2 minutes in that's beautiful and I like the relaxed keyboard work after 7 minutes. The tempo picks up before 8 1/2 minutes big time.

"Mizzle" is a Jazz/ Fusion piece where they show off their chops. Impressive! "Canterbury Tale(For Pye Hastings & Richard Sinclair)" is a guitar led song that is a fitting tribute, very enjoyable. "Magic Carpet" is synth led as the music swells and collapses until it kicks into a Jazz/ Fusion track that is quite lively. A calm before 3 minutes and I love when the guitar comes in with the background synths. "Little Pieces Part 2' like the first one is piano led with spacey synths, very ballad-like. "Pipe Dream" is a bright keyboard led track with prominent bass and busy drum work. The guitar starts to lead before 4 1/2 minutes. Nice.

A really enjoyable album that will scratch the itch for most of you Jazz Rock/ Fusion fans out there.

 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.90 | 53 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Shortly after the release of the masterful ''A story of mysterious forest'' Masey Hattori left Ain Soph, he went to form his own Fusion-oriented band 99.99.That resulted the pause of activities by the band, around 1983 a new keyboardist was brought on board, but the new formation did not work out.After releasing a solo cassette in 1983, Yozox Yamamoto reformed Ain Soph due to the unexpected comeback of Kikuo Fujikawa.With Masahiro Torigaki on bass and Bellaphon's Taiqui Tomiie on drums the band would record its second disc ''Hat and field'' in 1986, released on Nexus.

The title of the album says it all.The much more Classical-influenced Masey Hattori was out and Fujikama's jazzy-spiced playing was thrown in Ain Soph's style, thus the new album was heavily resembling to the pre-Ain Soph years of Tenchi Sozo.With such a name it's rather useless to talk about the band's sound at this point.It was recalling the monster Canterbury Fusion works of the 70's and HATFIELD AND THE NORTH, CARAVAN, NATIONAL HEALTH and even FOCUS are just a few names, the sound of which Ain Soph tried to plagiarize in ''Hat and Field''.So most of this effort passes through ethereal electric piano and synth workouts, CAMEL-like emotional and jazzy-flavored solos and melodies (remember, Tomiie came from BELLAPHON, which were a highly CAMEL-influenced combo) and generally ''Hat and field'' tries to deliver an airy, less technical and more melodious approach on Progressive/Jazz Rock with accesible tunes on an all instrumental offering.Being Japanese, which means musicians with an impressive technical level, Ain Soph couldn't leave their virtuosic skills aside, so a couple of pieces feature some fiery interplays on keyboards and guitars, sitting comfortably next to the calm solos and atmospheric keyboards.Moreover, despite being a really down-to- earth album, ''Hat and field'' contains a huge number of emphatic breaks and rhythm changes, somewhat unfairly treated by the band itself due to some flat keyboard lines, but the result is always tasteful and interesting.

The revival of the Canterbury scene into the 80's.Melodic British-styled Fusion, nothing to do actually with the more symphonic sound of ''A story of mysterious forest'', this sits somewhere between Camel and Hatfield and The North.Warmly recommended for its honest approach on progressive instrumentals and delicate interplays.

 Hat And Field by AIN SOPH album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.90 | 53 ratings

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Hat And Field
Ain Soph Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by MJAben

4 stars It seems with the band's debut, they made an attempt to showcase their musical ability while giving less effort to their songwriting whereas, in this album, it seems as though the band does a flip over and makes an attempt to craft beautiful and interesting songs that may not show off how talented the musicians are, but nevertheless that talent is still there.

This second style works for the band and I find myself absolutely loving this album, I enjoyed their debut but at times it became a bit much whereas this album seems to have a perfect soothing pace throughout. Also, a strong bonus is that you don't enjoy have to be a fan of prog to enjoy this record, I will play this for my family, friends, girlfriend and it is almost always a crowd pleaser, it is simultaneously interesting and relaxing in such a way that it's hard for anybody to dislike this record.

But this safety net may in fact be the albums downfall, it takes no chances and although the musicianship is fantastic, the songs are beautifully crafted and the music is absolutely breathtaking the album is completely safe and doesn't stry to far away from its roots. I wouldn't call the album redundant, it doesn't begin to sound the same and the music certainly doesn't start to grate on you but the style doesn't exactly change.

I would recommend this music to just about anybody but wouldn't call this a masterpiece of progressive music, but it's still an absolutely breathtaking album.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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