A true stylistic tour de force, Ayn Soph’s “The Mind Eclectic” proves there is still some truth in advertising with a title that depicts their love of genre-blending. Hip-hop, jazz in all sorts of flavors, rock dub, pop all of these effortlessly merge together to create a cohesive whole. The instrumental density feels absolutely dazzling to behold for a great variety of textures fall deftly into place. Vast layers of sound intermingle to create virtual kaleidoscopic patterns, of rhythms and melodies interlocking. Everything about it defies easy categorization for the shifts from style to style happen unexpectedly. More impressively, they are able to do it all with such ease.
References are scattered throughout the entirety of the album treating them as if they were easter eggs. With the jazz-rock fusion they draw from Frank Zappa’s “Hot Rats” album for the merging of the two feels flawless. On the Latin jazz kick, they bring some of Kip Hanrahan’s work on percussion for these songs are virtually propelled forward with such muscle. Finally, for the rap side of things they embrace the crystal cool clarity of Kendrick Lamar. Like him, they focus on crafting rich narratives ones whose lyricism feels akin to parables from the modern day. Also like him, they bring large dollops of jazz to hip-hop giving it a vibrant feel.
“CLUB KIDD” starts the album off with tremendous spirit, with the drums and horns bursting at the seams. Upon the inclusion of the vocals the song further emphasizes a degree of pure defiance. The sheer sprawl of “Shelter in Place Sessions” goes for the gargantuan with the lumbering beat proving to be quite the beast. By slowing the tempo down, they accurately capture the time stretch so many are suffering through over the course of the pandemic. On “Summer Summer ft. Rose Jay” they embrace a tropical vibe with lovely bass merging with lush strings. “Boranda” serves as one of the album highlights, as the track has a sophisticated and sizzling take on salsa. A wonderful stride underlies the strength of “Cure Your Ills/The Thief ft. Peter Feliciano”.
Flows fly by freely on the stately swagger of “Ratchet Mozart ft. Don Marco”. Here Don Marco’s delivery has a poetry to it washing over the listener. Truly enormous “Knuckleheadz: Prologue” shows off the band’s mastery with a chaotic blend of psychedelic meets a spirited form of jazz. The stripped-down minimal take of “Opera ft. Don Marco” has a haunted beauty to it, as the groove is kept to the essentials with the sample downright eerie. Like a long-lost classic “Just In Time To See The Sun” deserves to be blasted at the loudest possible volume for it is a pure triumph. A true trip of a track “Altered State” wanders about in a delirious haze, with saxophones swimming through the din. Neatly bringing it all to a close is the spry take of the finale “Doppelgangers”.
“The Mind Eclectic” reveals Ayn Soph to be a master at sculpting a sonic universe distinctly their own.