Ain Soph

Marine Menagerie

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

For Marine Menagerie, the group's third release, Ain Soph steered a few degrees closer to new age waters, sweetening their brand of progressive jazz-rock with a large dose of dreamy, insubstantial developments. The album still has something to offer, if you can stomach the occasional trite solo and generic keyboard patches. In fact, this album arches back to the group's origins, with revised renditions of songs from Ride on a Camel, recorded by the pre-Ain Soph band Tenchi-Sozo in 1978 and reissued the same year as this one. So all the usual reference points are there: "Ride on a Camel" and its Andy Latimer-esque solo, "Variations on a Theme by Brian Smith," based on a tune by Nucleus, and the "Metronome 7/8" suite, which includes a cover of Caravan's "Introduction." In addition to these obvious references and allusions, there is the strong mid-period Caravan/Soft Machine feel of "Marine Menagerie" and the Steve Hackett-like melody in "Flooded by Sub Light." Originality never was Ain Soph's forte, but this quartet is capable of fine songwriting. Sadly, even the stronger pieces fall a bit short on this cold, passion-lacking record -- just listen to the sloppy first section of "Metronome 7/8," which should have been snappy and hard-punching, and yet is anything but. "Flooded by Sun Light" and "Ride on a Camel" are good tracks nevertheless, but you might want to start with the other albums. At least the next one, Five Evolved from Nine, has a warmer sound.

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