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arK - 'Wild Untamed Imaginings' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/b6/dc/17/1071_arKWildUntamedImaginings_1299446235.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 06, 2011    
 
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A collection of spruced up, re-recorded songs that the band feel weren't done justice the first time around.

First coming together as far back as 1985, arK were the first progressive port of call for IQ, Arena and Frost* (among others) bassist John Jowitt, and after winning time in the studio through a battle of the bands competition, arK released their debut album 'The Dreams Of Mr Jones' in 1988. Although there were subsequent albums and EPs released on cassette, that debut was the only proper release that arK put out before Jowitt jumped ship for IQ, although the band did continue for a few years, releasing their second full album 'Spiritual Physics' in 1992. Jowitt, vocalist Ant Short, guitarist Peter Wheatley and synth guitar player Steve Harris teamed up again in 2009 with intentions of restarting the band, but with none of the quartet even knowing where any of the drummers that had played for the band lived, they've instead plumped for Darwin's Radio tub thumper Tim Churchman to fill the vacant position. 

'Wild Untamed Imaginings' is a collection of spruced up, re-recorded songs that the band feel weren't done justice the first time around, both in the terms of the manner of their recording and their availability. Boy have they given them the treatment they deserve this time round! A hard hitting mix gives the tracks a rough edge that makes them brash, bold and in the terms of progressive rock, a bit punky. Don't worry though, as songs like 'Hagley', 'Coats Of Red' and 'So You Finally Made It' are pure, upbeat, in your face, prog bliss. The combining of Short's slightly Fish like vocals, Wheatley's deft guitar work and Harris' intricate guitar synth playing, make for an individual style that is firmly based in neo-prog and sounds traditionally English, without ever becoming too reliant on any one particular band for inspiration. Churchman is a fabulous addition to the band, with his uncluttered playing leaving room for the guitar and synths to really breathe a huge amount of life into the music, which seems to gallop along with a boundless energy.

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There are many songs worthy of mention, with 'Coats Of Red', having the military feel that title suggests, as well as a touch of New Model Army! 'New Scientist', which uses sound clips of young children going about their day to great effect, brings a more atmospheric side to proceedings and the spoken word section, which reminds of Fish at his enigmatic best, adds to the drama. A more simplistic outlook is shown on the beautifully melodic 'Hagley', where Short's flute often leads the music in a gently hypnotic manner that really shows the intricacies of arK in a way that much of the energetic prog here doesn't allow.

I was slightly unsure at the wisdom of arK reworking some of their old songs as a way of reintroducing themselves, but with this excellent collection, I needn't have worried. Even better news is that a new album is also just round the corner.

Steven Reid

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