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Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Punk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



" Artist of the Day (July 20)"

"The International feels like Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd weaving through Gang of Four tunes, particularly on droning album closer 'Sudden Freeze/The Ice Shelf/The Thaw.' These guitars are dirty but impeccable, avoiding showy wanking in place of gnarly dynamics. The crunching title track crashes with a heavily starched staccato rhythm. Tracks such as 'Candor,' 'Stator/Asymptote' and 'Customs' grind along a draining heavy-bass approach a la Canadian punk stalwarts NoMeansNo, while the sub two-minute 'Maritime Snakes' flails away with Wire-esque energy and efficiency. Other tracks like 'Safe and Sound' and 'Tumult!' jerk like Pere Ubu sans David Thomas' wailing bellow."


"Guitar-driven, Jagged and Danceable"

Arks | The International (Highwheel) Print E-mail
Written by Rebecca Reardon
Monday, 20 August 2007

The International is guitar-driven, jagged and danceable, right from the declarative first track. I started singing along right away, always a good sign.

According to their press release, Arks began in 2002 as a trio, with bassist Mat Biscan, drummer Bo Altes and singer/guitarist Paul Hornschemeier in a Ukranian Village apartment, defining their sound based on Hornschemeier's four -recordings.

Altes has since been replaced by Glenn Rischke. Lanny Oswalt now plays guitar. And by the time you read this, the four-piece Arks will have celebrated their Aug. 16 release party at eclectic, Wicker Park venue Subterranean for their first full-length album The International. A hell of a party, I'm sure. Because The International is guitar-driven, jagged and danceable, right from the declarative first track. Which, incidentally, brought Bloc Party to mind. I started singing along right away, always a good sign.

But I'm not going to lie to you, the lyrics get bizarre. Check out the fourth song, "Maritime Snakes." Hornschemeier laments, "S.S. takes stock of his appendages, full stop/ And he can't afford the rent/ But these legs are sharply dressed, gauzed indigent/ and he's off to coalesce/ What fine shoes to tramp the cobbler's note!" What the...?

I have no idea what that's all about. But I don't really care, I'm digging Arks. Especially "Safe and Sound." Hornschemeier starts out low and ominous, like Peter Murphy, then leaps to the range of Ian McCullough, all with a moody bass line that would feel right at home on Interpol's set list. Cool.

A- | Rebecca Reardon - PLAYBACK:stl

"An Odd, Stilted Swagger All Their Own"

Calling Arks a one-note act would almost be a literal interpretation after hearing the opening title track of The International. Starting with a staccato snare beat, singer/guitarist Paul Hornschemeier (who's also a noted comic artist and writer, author of the fantastic Sequential among many others) barks in monotone like a lifeguard's warning, and the guitars and bass follow suit, all layering onto one tone in lockstep rhythm. The song barely varies on the chorus, letting the notes reverberate for a few moments while the singer scrounges just enough melody to make up a hook. It's one of the more economical openers I've heard lately, and it certainly sets the tone for the rest of the record.

The International is a mix of familiar underground sounds with peculiar execution, cobbling songs together from loose, jagged shards of melody, suggesting and insinuating hooks rather than laying them out for the listener. From second track "Candor" on, Arks establish an unusual tension, with songs that never quite go the direction you'd expect. However, they often go from one obvious influence to the next without even so much as a segue, "Candor" among them. They've made some unusual choices there, too: Girls Against Boys are not a band you often hear referenced, nor do they get loads of accolades in hindsight. I'm pleased to hear them nodded to, in the surprise breakdown of "Candor" and many other places on The International. However, GvsB themselves hovered on the precipice of parody, and aping them is a tricky thing without sounding like an aspiring sleaze at best, and a charmless Nic Offer at worst. Hence the Jekyll/Hyde vocals of "Candor" sound more incongruous than they should, and the lounge-lizard verses to choked rants on the chorus of "Cars on Fire" is a little hard to take seriously.

The album's middle section is no less indebted, but a little more focused. The clean, single-note guitar parts nod to the sprawling peaks of the Cure's career, as does Hornschemeier's more insistent wail. Falling in these footsteps suits them better, as they take the time to develop a groove and a more noticeable, moodier atmosphere than the record's swaggering first third-- the sparse stretch of "Customs" especially seems to fold restlessness of the title track into a careful tribute. Hornscheimer also lays back on that one, and he shows good instincts throughout when he doesn't have to lead the pack. He only mutters a few disdainful words over the verses in "Safe and Sound", knowing well enough to let the minimal horror-camp atmosphere take the foreground, and punching in on the chorus when needed. It's a shame that it's one of the few moments where the band picks up the slack melodically, as that and the squealing grind of "Silver" are easy standouts here.

The cumulative mood of the songs on The International seems to hint towards omnipresent, low-level paranoia, though primarily through snippets of lyrics and the ghostly reverb of the guitars. The vibe gets across, but mostly because the record feels claustrophobic and homogeneous. Though many of it's songs aren't much more than the sum of their influences, collectively, they have an odd, stilted swagger all their own. Arks' debut is still pretty derivative, but it sounds like they're learning the right lessons.

-Jason Crock, September 20, 2007 -

"Smart Indie-rock"

Smart indie-rock that succeeds in sustaining an underlying sex appeal that transcends its shoegazer roots. Vocalist Paul Hornschemeir shows a unique versatility to be both dangerously frantic and eerily hypnotic over his band’s dance-laden rhythms.

Dance like you just…well, you know…

-Russ Hockenbury, -

"Buzz Like Beehives"

This punk quartet's guitars buzz like beehives through a Marshall amp.

-- -

"Bare Bones Angular Rock"

The International is bare bones angular rock; the standard's Bloc Party's first album were soundly built around before--well, the bottom fell out. …there's a distinct blend of party punk and post-rock that's undeniably catchy. - Electronic Voice Phenomenon

"Jittery, Angluar Rock"

It has taken Chicago band Arks five years to release a full-length, but the wait has apparently served the post-punk quartet well. The International, which gets an official release at thie show, packs the kid of jittery, angluar rock that many bands play, but few play well. - The Onion

"Sonically Potent"

ARKS The International (High Wheel Records) Led by vocalist and guitarist Paul Hornschemeier, Chicago quartet Arks delivers some of the most sonically potent post-punk songs that the genre has to offer in the form of this, the group's debut full-length album.

Guitarists Lanny Oswalt and Hornschemeier manipulate Fugazi-like staccato breakdowns into waves of polished but aptly distorted noise, while bassist Mat Biscan and drummer Glenn Rischke take a Joy Division/New Order approach to rhythms.

Despite obvious alt-music influences from the late '80s and early '90s, Arks should be lauded for going beyond the simple recycling of older post-punk formulas and creating something uniquely engaging. And while songs like "Cars on Fire," and "Candor" exist in the realm of driving guitars and wailing vocals, variations in style abound. Two lusciously arranged instrumental tracks, "Customs" and "Sudden Freeze/The Ice Shelf/The Thaw" allow the players enough air to prove their worthiness as solid musicians.

Paul Hornschemeier's seductive, ghostly voice and the group's erudite songwriting efforts often combine to create a gothic atmosphere similar to early work by the genre's forefathers (Bauhaus, Christian Death). But The International veers far from the polished, phony gloom served up by more-visible performers today, like Marilyn Manson, and for that, I'm thankful.

By furnishing the listener with images like "Hammer out a compromise/with Caesar's legion busts/to live beneath the canopies/ and just above the dust," Arks might make more musical that lyrical sense, but it sounds so damn beautiful, it works.

-- Rob DeWalt - Sante Fe New Mexican

"Dark Angular Rock"

Would you call it post-punk, dark angular rock? - whatever it is, it's FANTASTIC!
- Old/Borrowed/New

"An Interesting Listen"

This Chicago group first caught my attention with their "Or Else It's Not There" EP by welding spacey dream-pop melodies to tight post-punk rhythms. Their first full length album, "The International" signals two major changes for the band: firstly, they've managed to get a much better sounding production this time out. The bass and drums are no longer buried in the murky mix. Secondly, they've dropped many of the dream-pop elements and concentrated more on the abstract post-punk elements of their music, sounding occassionally like Mission of Burma, Joy Division and post-Damaged Black Flag. I'm all for the better production, but I miss some of their more ethereal sounds. Their are some fine songs here - with "The People's Monument", "Tumult!", and especially "Stator/Asymptote" being favorites - but nothing is as good as the best songs on their debut. There's a overly-angular sound on many of the songs, along with singer Paul Hornschemeier's tendency to speak his lyrics in an annoying faux-sinister voice (see "Candor" and "Maritime Snakes"), which makes "The International" an interesting listen, but not always an enjoyable one.

-- David Mansdorf - Losing Today


"Or Else It's Not There" EP (self release, 2005)

Track List:

1. The Center of All Things
2. Sea and City
3. The Aphasia
4. Harpoon
5. Halo

"Welcome to the Future" (Highwheel Records, 2006)
Highwheel Records Compilation

Side One:
1. Welcome to the Future - Walking Bicycles
2. Subtraction - Arks
3. Clarity - Monster Women
Side Two:
1. Peoria - Airiel
2. Registered Trademarks, Patents and Keys - Rhineland Bastards

"The International" LP (Highwheel Records, 2007)

Track List:
1. The International
2. Candor
3. Cars On Fire
4. Maritime Snakes
5. Safe and Sound
6. The People's Monument
7. Customs
8. Maginot
9. Silver
10. Rot it Out
11. The Spoils
12. Stator/Asymptote
13. Tumult!
14. Sudden Freeze/The Ice Shelf/ The Thaw



Formed in 2002, in the back room of a Chicago Ukrainian Village apartment, fledgling three piece Arks consisted of bassist Mat Biscan and drummer Bo Altes piecing together minimalist, reverb-laden, ethereal songs based on singer/guitarist Paul Hornschemeier's four track recordings. Over the course of the next three years the group buckled and stretched, recording their first EP "Or Else It's Not There" in 2004, adding then engineer Lanny Oswalt on guitar, and infusing new energy into the percussion with drummer Glenn Rischke. This growth stripped away the reverb and fog, moving to the forefront the group's penchant for driving rhythm made jagged and danceable by wrangled noise. Galvanized by the band's evolution and cemented lineup, Arks entered the studio to graph their progress. The result is their first full length album, "The International."