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VINE VOICEon 20 December 2010
The last time we heard from Ark, or should I say arK, it was 1992. Yup, it's eighteen years since"Spiritual Physics" was released, but we've heard plenty of music from bassman John Jowitt since then, as he's also popped up in IQ, Jadis, Frost* and Arena. But now he's resurrected arK for an album of hard rocking, prog tinged tunes. Because it does rock very hard for a prog album, but without tipping over into metal. A tricky balancing act, but one well managed. Fans of his other bands will find some familiar territory here, but with more than a couple of surprises.

Unlike some resurrections, they've got a quorum of original members. As well as Jowitt, the band now features original members Tony Short on vocals and flute, Pete Wheatley - lead guitar, Steve Harris - guitar synth, and new member Tim Churchman (formerly of Darwin's Radio) on drums. The band say that this is a collection of story based songs. "From the adventure of a child's mind at the excitement of going on holiday, to a chance meeting full of possibilities that can never be anything more, from ordinary people caught in an extraordinary conflict to what might lurk behind those suburban net curtains, to leaving the earth to escape man made destruction, each song tells a different tale."

As it was in the days of yore, arK stand out due to a lack of keyboards, something rare in a prog band, relying instead on a guitar synth, something that keeps their sound unique and rooted in rock. Add in a flute and you've got a mighty fine mix. There are plenty of memorable tunes for them to shine on, and none more so than the hard, agressive opener 'Boudicca's Chariot'. It's a good statement of intent for what is to follow, and has a melody that sticks to you like fudge in a heatwave.

Elsewhere, songs like 'Gaia', 'Kaleidoscope' and 'Eighth Deadly Sin' are chock full of excellent musicianship and memorable hooks, but with enough twists and turns to keep the more ardent progsters happy. Add is some top qulity guitar solos and this turns out to be a highly enjoyable if unexpected return.
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on 17 August 2010
Evolving from incarnations as Damascus and Kite, arK's first line-up proper formed around Tony Short, Pete Wheatley and Steve Harris in 1986. With Steve's brother Andy on bass, and Dave Robbins on drums, the band released a single, 'Communications' before Andy left and was replaced by John Jowitt.

Although based only a few miles from Birmingham, the band were unable to get gigs there due to them playing what was then seen as unfashionable progressive rock; the arrangements and subjects might have been considered progressive, as was the eclectic line up (flute and guitar synth), yet the stage show - both theatrical and full of humor- won crowds over wherever the band played.

In order to overcome the lack of gigs in Birmingham, in 1987 the band entered and won a local "Battle of the Bands" competition, winning over a new audience in their home city, with the energy of their stage show leading to gigs in London including the Marquee Club. The mini album "The Dreams of Mr Jones" followed soon after in 1988, and the "New Scientist" EP later that year, recorded with new drummer Richard Deane, who had played with Jowitt in The First (featuring Mark Thwaite later of The Mission).

Building their following outside their native Black Country base let to 60-80 gigs a year, including guest support on IQ's summer 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' tour during June 1989. They then found themselves invited to play a headline date in Paris, and a support to It Bites for a one-off date in Tilburg, Holland.

Two cassette albums followed, "Archives", and "Stand Alone", the latter showing a more psychedelic side to the band, who were becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of recognition despite universally positive responses from fans. In October 1990 John decided to leave the band following the change in direction, his successor being Gel Newey. Four months later, in February 1991, Richard announced his departure, and on Gel's recommendation, Paul Rodgers joined the band.

With the line-up now established, work began on new material. They entered the studio again in March 1991 to record the tracks for the "Cover me with Rain" EP. In June 1991, they won the opportunity to record a Radio One session, when they scored the highest number of recorded votes in the Friday Rock Show's Rock War. The band's popularity as a live act continued with regular gigs around the UK and mainland Europe, and the band recorded their final album, "Spiritual Physics". The band split on 13th March 1995 at the Flapper & Firkin in Birmingham, Jowitt joining them for one song.

"I always felt that the band and its music never got the exposure and reward it deserved." says Jowitt, known for his success with iQ, Jadis, Frost* and Arena. "I'd long wanted to try to get the songs out to a wider audience. When Steve Harris got in touch last year, it seemed the ideal opportunity. I hadn't expected Pete and Tony to be up for it, but a chance meeting with Pete in the pub showed exactly the opposite to be true. And hopefully, we can show everyone what they missed!"

As well as Jowitt, the band in 2010 features are original members Tony Short on vocals and flute, Pete Wheatley - lead guitar , Steve Harris - guitar synth , and new member Tim Churchman (formerly of Darwin's Radio) on drums.

As well as being a line from the song 'New Scientist', 'Wild Untamed Imaginings' is an apt title for this collection of story based songs. From the adventure of a child's mind at the excitement of going on holiday, to a chance meeting full of possibilities that can never be anything more, from ordinary people caught in an extraordinary conflict to what might lurk behind those suburban net curtains, to leaving the earth to escape man made destruction, each song tells a different tale. Mixing folk, hard and progressive rock to evoke the storylines, arK's unique line-up, including flute and guitar synth rather than a keyboard player, which gives the band a signature sound all of their own, yet distinctly English.
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on 1 February 2014
Went from being so pleased to have found this material on CD to disappointed that it's not a straight copy of the vinyl recording. The music is somehow muted and subtly fatter... as I suppose we all are, 25 years on...
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on 22 August 2010
So great to see the chaps of arK back together again.

Sorry Mikey68, but the "Wild Untamed Imaginings" is actually a line from "The 8th Deadly Sin", not the "New Scientist", but a great review from you, chap.

I'm SO looking forward to getting this album, it has ben a missing jigsaw piece in my musical line up for years now. I've heard the new arrangements on the progrock website, and they bring back many great memories from the times when we used to see arK gigs in High Wycombe, Oxford, London, Gloucester, Bristol, heck, all over the place.

When it comes down to it, what do you do? Watch "X Factor" for free or purchase an arK Album... No contest, I'll pay the money!
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on 30 March 2015
I just had to burn a CD to play in my car after playing the album on my iPod. I'd never heard arK before and now I wonder why not.
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on 3 January 2016
Same brilliant voice, more rocky prog sound, a real grower.
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on 11 September 2015
Good CD
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