Sacred To The Shades

by Trapped Mice

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Two years on from their excellent debut album Winter Sun, - an album steeped in the chilly themes of longing, confusion, and a creeping sense of dread at the slow march of “progress” - the band return with Sacred to the Shades, an album that delves into historical allusions, stirred by the thought of living in the shadows of fallen empires, never quite learning from what has gone before. Ian Tilling explains;

“I read a sheet of translations from the inscriptions found on Roman funerary monuments. They spoke of loved ones who had passed on, now “sacred to the shades”, to the spirits of the dead, and these centuries-old stories struck a chord with me, and reminded me of themes I was already exploring in my song-writing. I've been fascinated by the idea of history repeating itself, and when I read the sad tales and warm-hearted manifestos in the various epitaphs, written so long ago, they seemed so rich and vital, like they could have been written yesterday”.

From the opening rumbles of ‘A Brief Introduction to Modern History’, with it’s pining guitar notes swooping above a rain-soaked serenade to some washed-up old circus performer down on his luck, Trapped Mice sound more assured than ever in their proclivity to all things atmospheric and mournful.

On ‘The French Lieutenant's Woman’ - inspired by the novel of the same name – the band weaves textures and masterfully builds tension. Lucie Miller’s violin winding beautifully about the vocal melody creates a sound that is suitably empathetic to Tilling’s words of abandonment, waiting and desperation.

The inscriptions that informed the writing surface throughout the album, but perhaps most prominently on the post-rock melancholy of ‘Slave Girl Song’ as Tilling explains;

“There was one inscription in particular, entitled “on the death of a young slave girl”, which moved me immensely, and it was clear to me that whatever the young girl Erotion had been through, there would be countless examples of people still alive today with similar experiences, without a stone epitaph to remember them by: "Let her now play and frolic with her old patrons, and lispingly chatter my name. Not hard be the turf that covers her soft bones, be not heavy on her, earth; she was not heavy on you.” Perhaps the intentions of her “old patrons” weren't as sinister as I imagine, but the parallels with modern sex-slavery, exploitation and people-trafficking were too obvious and too raw for me not to at least try and put some of how I was feeling into this song.”

Sacred to the Shades is arguably at its most striking on the two-part, ‘Shades’. Part one explores the idea of living in the shadows for a long time before eventually finding glory when you least expect it, and how that experience might make you feel about the person with whom you shared your life up to that point. Part two takes the idea of being two people together, in love, destined for something greater, and contrasts these grand historical ambitions with the absurdity of the pissed-up sex-addled reality of modern life


released April 6, 2015


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Trapped Mice Edinburgh, UK

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Track Name: A Brief Introduction to Modern History
modern history, nothing's easy
fallen empires and burnt tyres and bee stings

stone-cold companion
the deepest canyon
the highest ransom still standing so handsome
the right price

balance carefully
so bright and breezy
the high trapeze seems to fly back so easy
so teasing

reach the summit
babe we've won it
overdone it dear, but hell, we've won it

time fades
sacred to the shades

the safest place in a storm can wait
we've waited, waited so long
here's a song for a mind gone wrong
still strong as the first time we climbed through the bars
Track Name: The French Lieutenant's Woman
i played through all the phases of the moon
shaving silent circles out of view
descending into blue
and the light's gone, and i miss you

i saw my face reflected in the sky
sobbing rainy tears down from on high
filling me with life
like the night fills up the sunshine

the day you left they sentenced me to life
waiting til your ship comes sailing by
tied up on the pier
killing time, counting stars

searching the night
for shooting stars and satellites
coming up short
in fun and games of a lunar sort

it seems so silly when you see it
the tears twist your face so crooked
how could this feeling kill me
when feeling it fills me so fully

call off the firing squad
the rot's not set in yet
yes, i'm a safe bet
Track Name: Slave Girl Song
these stones are old, and your body is cold
and wrapped so sweetly
so routinely sold, in slave girl clothes
so long ago
and so damn cold

see those romans stole all that you knew
like white stone loan sharks
stripped you to the bone
your soft young bones
made themselves at home
inside your clothes

it's so sad to see a child upon her knees
you made the old men grieve
sweet tears between your teeth
sat on a lap on a silver throne
stretching out those soft young bones
you made your masters moan
old patrons crow:
if only, only, only
she lived to give the best a young girl could
Track Name: Shades Pt.1 (Dis Manibus)
history came to claim us on a thursday
and the way we became was so different
we believed we must be dying in the best way
the taste in the air was so vibrant
and they finally knew our names
and found us so enlightening
we were remembered as giants
seems all it takes to be is dying
all it really needs
is a spark in the darkness of trying
and in some starry sky they'll find us
they'll watch us split the atoms of being with such beauty
and they'll wonder how they missed us
in a darkened room
where we lay and we prayed in the shadows
and the walls grew thick with ivy
and you saw me grab hold of the last living fibre
and we tied ourselves together
and we fell into the darkness that crumbled around us
and i realised then i loved you
more than i could hold in the body i lost to this feeling
like life but so much stronger
oh hold me now
just hold me for one minute longer
oh hold on tight, and close your eyes
step into the light
i'll love you when i die
oh! rest with me tonight
as our bodies turn to fire
Track Name: The Trial
they put me on trial
then they put me away for a while
but they couldn't say at what time
the blame became mine
when they put me on trial

the courtroom shook
as the judges pounded their books
and they took one last long look
at the life that they took
when they put me on trial

in darker days
i might look at the mess i'd made
and decide there's nothing to say
they'll put me away
for the mess that i've made
but when you've seen
through eyes that buy the sunlight's silence
another shade comes out
it's different now
i mean it looks alright to me

the tender way
they all turn their eyes away
as the judges say
it shouldn't happen like this
it should never be this way
an easy life
the finest mind that books can buy
but then the legs fell out
he's finished now
a case of the saddest kind

climbing, as winter follows winter
in the city out there
there's this memory haunts the air
of someone climbing somewhere
in never-ending libraries
in stories i'll never find
garden paths that fork in time
with a slowly growing waistline
we'll walk these halls
and finally we'll find out what we became
we are all the same
the stand-ins for the stand-ins for famous names
when the judgement came they judged me fairly
they put me between
the best there's ever been
and the ones they won't believe
Track Name: Essex Wedding
the camera clicks
and she smiles so sickly sweet
with her knees on the sheets
and she greets the eyes
that glide all across
the flesh that she can't hide
can't hide no more

and when she looks
into the blinking lens
it's so hard to send any kind of life
out into the shining lights
it's so hard to try

in the street outside
they're gathered far and wide
she's so sure
she knows deep down inside
they're gathering far and wide
to bring her life

the blinking eyes
of the men who sit there
in sweating skin
have seen everything
and this one's sweet
she's such a tender thing
but nothing more
than the eyes have seen before
and promises sworn
in the grey light of dawn
of images that soar
great visions of porn
are casually withdrawn
hastily reborn

and they bark and they claw
at the trails of endless meat they're shredding
fearsome and forlorn
like the dogs outside an essex wedding
Track Name: The Space Race
the morning was low
in white autumn clouds
then the evening came down
with the sun to the ground

the garden was neat
the soil was swept
they grew peaches so sweet
for the creatures they kept

but no sweetness can grow
no nectar will flow
when you're praying to god
but the soil doesn't know

and the money was gone
and their fingers were numb
and they waited so long
for the space race to come

travelling west
with nowhere to go
such hope in their chests
left in pools by the road

chasing a sign
some signal in the wind
a promise of light
for those who have sinned

caressing the breeze
down on lover's bent knees
it reads: there's fruit in those trees
there's fish in that sea

and the road struggled on
and the travellers were numb
and they waited so long
for the space race to come

this country was built
by a hundred great men
and we'll build it again
when the signal is sent

and the men they were brave
took what stood in their way
those natives now slaves
made this country great

and the men spilt the blood
of the hopeless and damned
spilt out with their hope
tried to baptise the land

and the land it grew strong
and the people struck dumb
and they waited so long
for the space race to come
Track Name: When I Sleep
she bathed me in pastel colours
and put me on a screen
i was everything the world could ever want
the best that man could be
she stuck me on some humdrum stage
called a kingdom for a crowd
then she looked the other way
as mother nature took a bow

but she could never be
just slightly ordinary
no, she will always seem
so slightly out of reach

she bathes me in some magical colour
right out from her insides
meanwhile i desire to hide all i feel
in her tonight
like there was better in the holy roman empire
though she tells me otherwise
but i know she's only sunk into my eyes
as i hide in her tonight

no, she could never be
just slightly ordinary
no, she will always seem
so slightly out of reach

she might be my victory speech
when i sleep
when i decline to breathe

she likes to play the servile servant
the timeless concubine
like i could ever fathom her kind
oh empress divine
her hair hangs even longer than mine
behind it headlamps shine
i ask you in all that is holy
could christ escape that light?

no, she could never be
just slightly ordinary
no, she will always seem
so slightly out of reach

she might be my victory speech
when i sleep
when i decline to breathe
Track Name: Shades Pt.2 (Sacred to the Shades)
lying there, just me and you
naked as the day we blew in on some western wind
bound with skin, crumbling, thin

slouching in my tarnished crown
tugging and tearing at your gown, now stained with wine
and all is ours
this town, this time

we're the finest line this age can spin
casting off for emperors and kings
but catching at the skin
that crowns this oil slick in which we swim

great men will fall
as the seasons grow small
we'll watch it all

sacred to the shades are we
when our time comes
interred in shallow graves are we
when our line is spun
divine in all but name are we
sacred to the shades

i've seen us in times gone by
remembered as giants
now stylised by winning tribes
you and i
the shining marble prize

together entwined in stone
encasing your body
but romans had orgies too
and i've the same disease as you

the statues that they might build
the townsfolk inscribing:
until they outweigh these ills
they'll exist in this life still

great men will fall
as the seasons grow small
we'll watch it all

sacred to the shades are we
when our time comes
interred in shallow graves are we
when our line is spun
divine in all but name are we
sacred to the shades