Slint - Spiderland (1991)

Spiderland is a difficult record to define. At times it’s post rock, other times math rock and even grunge. It’s a bit like Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation meets something undefinable. Some of the guitar riffs screech, fuzzy and unrefined. At other times, they’re pristine and clear.

“Breadcrumb Trail” sounds like rock Rilke. “As I walked toward it I passed a crowd of people...she smiled at me, asked me if I wanted my fortune read...”, a narrative is mumbled as a guitar riff recurs. The chorus erupts as the “fortune teller screams at me”.

“Nosferatu Man” is dissonant and distorted. “Don Man” is melancholic and is void of percussion (and empty in general). A guitar strums indolently over and over, as a protagonist inaudibly recounts his thoughts before, during and after a party in a bar.

“Washer” presses on with miserable chords and the unhurried tempos. It’s graceful and simplistic in its gloom. Vocals are whispered. There’s always something disquieting about Spiderland. Even the album photograph is unsettling in the unstable smiles of the band members. “Washer” surges deafeningly toward the conclusion then recoils to its original hush.

Tension is pent up and then released in “For Dinner...”. The instruments are barely capable of being heard, generating an unremitting trepidation. Finally, “Good Morning Captain” bullies the listener with a heartless bassline, “Let me in, the voice cried softly from outside the wooden door. Scattered remnants of the ship could be seen in the distance, blood stained the icy wall of the shore”. In typical Slint style the chorus features a blare of instruments after muted verses, affording listeners an involuntary catharsis.

Spiderland is loud and quiet. It’s removed but affecting. It causes you to unravel.

“Please, it’s cold”.

(96 - SM)
Combined Rating = 96

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