Travelling along the ancient road with The Silk Road..
The Silk Road was an expansive trade route network enabling Chinese silk to be exported and sold all over the place from two hundred years either side of the birth of Christ. Or it was also an expansive dark web black market trading platform famed for selling drugs or other illicit items between 2011 until it was shut down by the FBI in 2013.
I checked in with founding member Tich and it turns out both of these things inspired the band name – the three hares symbol linked to the ancient trade route, although nobody really knows the origins of the images – but for the band, it and the name symbolise the universal connections people and places all have with one another.
I first saw The Silk Road the band back at Something To Smile About in their acoustic guise – but I’ve known singer and guitarist Tich for over a year now, and we’ve often nattered at Ferocious Dog gigs about their output. With extra performances at Estival and Wistful to take in, they’ve also been in the studio to produce a four track EP (well, really it’s five tracks), so it was great to finally get my hands on it courtesy of Tich at the weekend.
As I tend to do I’ve been hammering it on my drives to and from work this week – since I’ve clocked up over five hours of car time in the last two days (damn you, M42!) I feel like I’ve gotten to know this little collection very well indeed. That said, I’ve certainly not tired of listening to it whilst idly cursing the strange and unexplained concentration of traffic as I trog to and from the West Midlands each day.
Opening with Boats Come in at Midnight you’re straight in with ballsy rock power chords and drums, the harmonica and gritty vocals give it a bluesy feel. It’s stands aside from the rest of the EP for me a little in style, less folk punk and more punk rock. Inspired by cartel activities in Spain, more specifically a shooting in Costa del Sol back in 2014 – you can read about the story in more detail here should it pique your interest.
The Ancient Road leads in with a Ferocious Dog-esque drum intro like in Mairi’s Wedding Part II before the rest of the band kick in, the start to the song is evocative of Levellers’ Broken Circles to me (high praise indeed!), not in that it’s a duplication – just reminiscent, it’s fast pace, Tich growls lyrics continuing the theme of cartels operating along ancient illicit trade routes still utilised to this day.
Before the CD skips on to track 3 you’re straight into the lovely Montagu’s Harrier – as a bit of a twitcher at times this is a lovely tribute to a magnificent and endangered bird of prey you might’ve been lucky enough to have spotted in this country during the summer before it migrates to Africa. Soaring fiddles with drum and guitar backing have a real sense of urgency, I think it’s technically a reel, rather than a jig – but then as I’m sure you know I’m not a musician – you could have a right good mosh to it though!
Scars That Remain slows the pace right down with a contemplative fiddle and guitar intro before gentle percussion and victims kick in. The intro reminds me of Dance Before The Storm (which is interesting as there’s the lyric ‘dancing in the thunder and the rain’ in the chorus – by which point it doesn’t sound like that song at all!). Repositioning somebody you might consider the victim of abuse as a survivor gives a strong air of defiance and hope to a situation for many which seem hopeless. A strong message.
I Don’t Care has a dirty dirty guitar and drum intro before the fiddle and vocals join, and the song bursts into life in an almost poppy folk punk way for a moment, but it’s relentless with layers upon layer of percussion, bass, guitar, fiddle, harmonica and snarling vocals – pace changes give you a break then you’re thrown back into it. A dystopian lyrical trip amongst the disenfranchised – homeless folk, prostitutes, thieves and vagabonds. Colourful yet dark lives, and perhaps misunderstood?
This is a nice varied mixture of songs – I’ve referenced Levellers a couple of times, and Ferocious Dog – that’s certainly the area we’re playing in here, so it’s likely to appeal to the bulk of readers on these pages I would’ve thought! The production is high quality but doesn’t cut away the passion and grit of the band, it’s definitely a true representation of their kind of sound they make live too.
So in the first instance, pop along to a gig – then avail yourself of a CD if you like what you hear – and I’m pretty sure you will!