We are often fed the narrative that enduring through struggle—whether it be physical, mental, or emotional—will push us forward to a greater creative output as a reward for our suffering. That is the story that we are given because it is a pleasant way to look at the world; when we’re surrounded by chaos, finding a purpose for our pain becomes a survival technique. Of course, sometimes that pain breeds negativity, or worse yet, stagnation. The ways in which we individually process and heal from hardship is based on hundreds of variables, all of which affect our path moving forward. With that journey in mind, it’s time to turn our attention to Ark Patrol.
Ark Patrol started his project in 2012, and in the years following, amassed a sizable fanbase. Six years into his career, Ark Patrol was simultaneously thrust towards an artistic tipping point and an enormous personal challenge, to say the very least. During this past year, he was diagnosed with—and subsequently beat—cancer. As you can imagine, this must have hindered his creative ability and process. But after winning his battle with cancer in 2018, he is now releasing his self-titled first LP.
The cathartic nature of creation is truly utilized on Ark Patrol—this album is a perfect example of processing horrific suffering into great art as we follow the producer’s emotional journey with his health. At the beginning of the album, the pain seeps out of every note; the third song in, “Entropy,” oozes a sense of desperation that is palpable. In this six minute track, there are few vocals, but the constant yearning of “I want to know,” strikes a powerful chord, especially paired with an almost droning beat. It echoes the repetitive thoughts and questions that go inside the brain on a daily basis. This questioning is probably a focus when surviving a disease that has no rhyme or reason behind it. But the probing internal thoughts given voice here can hit each of us for different reasons. Not every negative or positive thing we experience has that sense of logic or reason. Entropy is, above all else, a gradual decline into disorder. Despite the fact that this track is nearly perfectly engineered, that disarray is felt, and powerfully so.
It might be simple to break down Ark Patrol track by track, but that would do it a disservice. This is a piece of work meant to be taken as a whole. The greatest music, regardless of genre, is about a feeling, as opposed to a logical breakdown of lyrics and instrumentation. Because of what Ark Patrol endured, the sense of aforementioned pain and ensuing recovery absolutely shines through. The second single “Darling, You Can’t Walk Away,” embodies the complexity of this work. “Darling you can’t walk away/Your feelings come and go” may sound like a completely negative piece of lyricism, but it is expertly paired with an almost bubbly sound beneath it. This is what transforms this album into something special. Ark Patrol is an album that, beyond all other things, is dichotomous. It is not only about suffering or rebirth, but instead it contains both of these things and the multitude of emotions that flow between these extremes.
The final track on Ark Patrol, “Be Still And Let The Night Pass Over You,” is particularly affecting. Compared to the other nine tracks, it feels underproduced, possibly purposefully so. There is a substantial feeling of both peace and readiness that permeates every note. The song begins very calmly, almost lulling you into sleep. But about halfway through, there is the slightest shift in tempo that almost forces the listener to sit up and take note. This carries through clear to the end of the track, instilling a new sense of liveliness into the composition. As a listener, I immediately wanted to hear more, and felt an actual sense of loss as the song and album closed.
Ark Patrol is both an ending and a beginning, as it should be. In terms of album construction, many artists could learn a great deal from this. It is no small feat to end an album in a way that is fitting, but also painful to those of us on this musical journey. It is also as it should be given the context of Ark Patrol’s life and struggles. This is clearly the end of a difficult process for him, but also, hopefully the beginning of even more artistic output.
Ark Patrol is available for streaming on all major platforms. Follow Ark Patrol on Spotify.