ARK: The Animated Series, Vol. 1 – Gareth Coker

Many composers have made quite a name for themselves writing for a specific medium. One of them is Gareth Coker, who came into the spotlight for many game music enthusiasts for his work on Ori and the Blind Forest and the sequel Ori and the Will of the Wisps. He has been mainly working on video games ever since. One of the gaming franchises he has written the music for is the ARK games and all its expansions. These are survival games in a world filled with dinosaurs and other creatures, which can be your companions or your enemies. Coker has been writing the music for this franchise even before he started composing the music for the Ori games. 

Unfortunately, while I knew he had written the music for ARK, I never found the opportunity to listen to it. This has changed with the release of ARK: The Animated Series, which is an animation show airing on Paramount+. I cannot watch the series here in the Netherlands, nor do I have time to fully analyze the around three hours of music released as Volume 1. For a proper review, I also have to listen to the music from the games to see how existing themes are being reused. I want to write something about the music, though, using my leit review format, and the reason for it is simple: Gareth Coker wrote an extraordinary score for this series.

One of Coker’s strengths is to write genuinely gorgeous melodies that hit you in your soul, which is also the case for the music for ARK: The Animated Series. These melodies are wonderfully integrated into an orchestral score, with many of these wonderful melodies being performed on all kinds of different flutes. I was not surprised when I learned that woodwind specialist Kristin Naigus was performing all these beautiful melodies, with “Scary the Parasaur” as a brilliant example. That track is only one of many highlights on this album, showcasing Coker’s clever way of composing. You can find other examples of excellent music in tracks like “The Will to Survive” and “Broodmother,” but the showpiece of the score is “Helena’s Theme,” which represents the protagonist of the show. It is a stunning piece with gorgeous emotional lines, mainly performed on cello and piano.

Ever since Coker’s music for the Ori games, I have been hoping to hear more great new scores from him, and, apparently, I was missing out all along, with his music for the ARK franchise being around for many years. As of this writing, only Volume 1 is out, and I assume an additional volume will be released, with probably many more hours of music. I hope this series will introduce more people to Coker’s work who are not that into video games. His stunning music deserves a wider audience.

Listen or buy


The highlights are in bold.

  1. Awakening (2:23)
  2. Your Mission Is Survive (2:03)
  3. Mystery and Majesty (1:10)
  4. Helena’s Theme (4:46)
  5. Scary the Parasaur (1:58)
  6. Raptor Riders (2:35)
  7. Helena X Victoria (2:18)
  8. Rockwell’s Theme (3:35)
  9. Escape and Introducing the General (2:07)
  10. Stranger in a Strange Land (2:30)
  11. Paroxysm (3:21)
  12. A Delicate Hope (1:05)
  13. Nerva’s Interrogation (1:57)
  14. Lost Homes and Civilizations (3:58)
  15. The Artifacts (3:09)
  16. The Die Is Cast (4:05)
  17. The Will to Survive (3:06)
  18. The Long Arm of Nerva (1:02)
  19. A Mother’s Wisdom (1:43)
  20. ARK Life, Pt. 1 (1:53)
  21. Meiyin’s Theme (1:47)
  22. A New Ally, a New Friend (3:17)
  23. For the Future Generation (2:02)
  24. The Great Alliance (1:26)
  25. Artifacts and Element (3:24)
  26. Broodmother (4:00)
  27. Mysteries of the ARK (1:36)
  28. The Green Obelisk Alight (1:52)
  29. Standoff (1:02)
  30. Alasie’s Theme & Forging a New Alliance (3:12)
  31. Henry’s Theme & A Scientist’s Mind (3:44)
  32. John’s Theme (2:14)
  33. ARK Life, Pt. 2 (1:03)
  34. Attack of the Fliers, Pt. 1 (1:45)
  35. Soft Face (1:02)
  36. John’s Past (2:49)
  37. Attack of the Fliers, Pt. 2 (3:40)
  38. Recovery (1:54)
  39. We Will Liberate Them (1:59)
  40. Fight for Those Whose Names You Do Not Know (1:01)
  41. Help Her on the Path Ahead (2:53)
  42. Behavioral Adaptation (1:35)
  43. How to Tame Your Dino (2:14)
  44. Entering the Camp (1:41)
  45. Gladiatrix Theme (3:47)
  46. Always Part of Helena’s Plan (1:23)
  47. Hide, Seek, and Catch (2:38)
  48. Raid (5:06)
  49. The Choice (1:47)
  50. The Bonds of Fate (3:55)
  51. Civilians or Soldiers (2:19)
  52. Training a Rebel (2:44)
  53. Council Debate (2:50)
  54. Chef Alasie (0:41)
  55. The Way of the Warrior (3:50)
  56. Forged in Blood (4:43)
  57. Assault (5:20)
  58. Yin Versus Yang (6:03)
  59. Indomitable (6:12)
  60. Haunted (2:28)
  61. Rescue Plan (4:02)
  62. These Are Not My Stars (3:09)
  63. A Warrior’s Heart (4:41)
  64. Infiltration (5:17)
  65. Clash of Titans (3:01)
  66. More Than the Stars in the Sky (1:17)
  67. Wakíya Natá Ú (2:00)
  68. Reunited (3:03)

Total length: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Lakeshore Records (2024)

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