Hello all and welcome to another wonderful Saturday! I’m really psyched to bring you this week’s Selection, the latest album from one-man rhythm wizard Ark Patrol, called Fire.
Anyone who has read my posts before knows that I sometimes get kinda hype about the music I review here, especially when I think it’s really good. Well let me just say, this week is NOT GOING TO BE ANY DIFFERENT! Seriously, I cannot get over how fucking incredible this album is, and the fact that Ark Patrol is (according to Facebook, at least) pretty much unknown. Dude only has like 20-something likes, which I’d say is a real goddamn shame, and I am going to do my part to get as many people as possible talking about him.
Like a lot of the music I tend to gravitate towards, Fire is an album of instrumental hip-hop/electronica-esque beats, but it’s also so much more. In Ark Patrol’s own words, “Fire is 1 part latin-infused groovyliciousness, 1 part chilled-out relaxation tunes, and 1 part pure fun.” (Taken from Fire’s bandcamp page.) As delicious a description as this is, it still doesn’t do the album justice. Not only is Fire sexy, groovy, chilled-out and tons of fucking fun, it’s also innovative in a way that I’ve just about never heard before.
Take the first track on the album as an example. “Money” is a super laid-back, groovy song laden with luscious guitar and a real quick, cymbal-heavy drum beat. A great song in its own right, the thing that totally boggles my mind about “Money” is the base rhythm at the heart of the song. Running through pretty much the entire track, the sound holding all of the disparate elements of the beat together is — wait for it — a barcode scanner! (You know when you check out at pretty much any type of retail store, and the cashier moves your items over the scanning laser and it goes beep beep beep, it’s that sound.)
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Zev, you say to yourself, what the hell have you been smoking? Not only is a barcode scanner not something I want to hear as the base beat in a song, it’s damn annoying when I hear it in real life! And to you, gentle reader, I say yes, you are absolutely right. The beep of a barcode scanner in an obnoxious sound, and any song built around the repetition of that noise should be really annoying and unpleasant to listen to. It should be, but it’s just not. I can’t begin to tell you why the scanner noise works so well as a rhythmic tool but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t do just that. And please, absolutely do not take my word for it, check “Money” out for yourself!
I really want to talk in depth about every song on this album, because they’re all incredible, but I figure you probably have better things to do with your time (like LISTENING TO THE WHOLE ALBUM) so I won’t subject you to that. I do, however, want to mention two other tracks by name. First is song number 4, which would be a perplexing, uninteresting, muzak-esque beat that doesn’t really seem to go anywhere if it wasn’t for the fact that this song is called “Elevator”. The self-aware nature of the title makes the silliness of the track hilarious, and also draws one’s attention more closely to the little details of the song which are what prevent it from actually being muzak.
Last but the exact opposite of least is my favorite song on the album, track #2, “Shaolin”. This song starts with an orchestral base rhythm, adds some exotic Eastern twang, then merges both of these styles into a bumping hip-hop beat with a brief, super-chill flute interlude and some good old-fashioned “uuhhh”s. Seriously, this song is so fucking dope it’s ridiculous. Once again, please please please do not take my word for it.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to exchange some messages with Ark Patrol himself, so I figured I would leave you today with his description of just how these amazing songs get put together:
“I spend hours upon hours researching and going over the structure and elements of today’s various hits. After extensive review and documentation, I then discard all gathered information and instead make a beat out of a little melody I thought of the previous day. Other times I play out a progression on the rhodes/piano and just see where it takes me.
I play all the parts myself, though I sample instrument libraries so I can play out the melodies through midi since I don’t have access to an entire string orchestra. Even with the sampling, I still do a bit of warping and cutting of any vocals I grab in order to make them fit well with the track. The only drum loop I’ve sampled is in Intermission.”
Shit is amazing yo.
Hit up Ark Patrol’s bandcamp for a name-your-price download of Fire (and his other albums, which I haven’t heard yet but am damn excited to get into). I know it’s really tempting to just download stuff like this for free and not have to think about it, but this dude really deserves your cashy money, and I figure the more dough we fans put towards the cause, the sooner we’re gonna get more amazing tunes!
Thanks for stickin’ with me folks, that’s all for now. See you all next time!