In this year of Donald Trump, Brexit and mass celebrity death, the only musical accompaniment that seems apt should be murky, ominous and eerie. Enter Silk Road Assassins who provide such a sonic palette with their languorous and futuristic beats.
Straddling the half-time feel and bpm divide between grime and trap, the trio of producers from Bath and Bristol have created an aesthetic and sound that garnered attention from the experimental label Planet Mu earlier this year, specifically from its prolific alumni Kuedo. It was Kuedo who first took to the three music technology students’ menacing sound and who passed on their tracks to label boss Mike Paradinas. The result of that Planet Mu collaboration was the release of the 'Reflection Spaces' EP in April.
“A lot of our sound design and palette choice is influenced by video games” the SRA boys explain, since, “we’ve all grown up having game sound and music drilled into our heads”. The atmospherics of video game music are not the only influences to contribute to Reflection Spaces, though, as the trio also cite film sound design, specifically the work of Ridley Scott in “the way his films manage to use sound and visuals really cohesively to create an atmosphere.” This imagined visual accompaniment gives their tracks a sci-fi inflection, creating a sense of momentum and depth to each offering.
In their forthcoming release, the 12” ‘Deadcell/3M Kunai’, you can hear the abundance of different influences shaping the SRA sound. Whilst ‘3M Kunai’ threateningly places a rumbling sub underneath its twinkling arpeggiated synths, conjuring up a lurking grime instrumental, ‘Deadcell’ showcases the sci-fi influence in full force, evoking a dystopian future through streaking synths and a reverberating, atmospheric intro. Since not all members are based in the same city, it seems appropriate that their creative process is often refracted through the internet, sending fragments of tracks back and forth between members, resulting in distilled sounds that reflect the environments in which they were created. If all three producers are together, the notion of creativity in isolation is kept as “usually one person will work on the project while the others take their focus off it for a bit”, they explain.
A continuation of the SRA sound in reverse, ‘Deadcell’ and ‘3M Kunai’ were written over a year before Reflection Spaces and represent a prototype of the soundscapes that influenced the EP. The producers “felt it was a natural time to put [the 12”] out”, since “a lot of people have been asking for these tracks for a while”, making the release both a further exploration into the depths of the Silk Road Assassins imagination, as well as a long-awaited addition for their fans.
The group are currently writing their debut album, as well as working with sonic assaulters WWWINGS on tracks that will no doubt break your sub-woofers. We can only hope that if 2016 continues its bleak reign, we’ll at least have the sonic explorations of Silk Road Assassins as a saving grace.
WHERE: Bath and Bristol
WHAT: Dark, sci-fi influenced grime instrumentals
THREE SONGS: Deadcell, 3M Kunai, Vectors
FACT: The group were originally considering naming themselves after the video game ‘TimeSplitters’
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Words: Ammar Kalia