If Slint's debut, 1989's Tweez, was one of the earliest salvos in what came to be known as post-rock, their second album, 1991's Spiderland was where the band pushed their most radical ideas forward and created a touchstone, working with dynamics that made the silences every bit as much presence as the guitars and drums, manipulating space and time as they stretched out and juggled time signatures, and conjuring melodies that were as sparse and fragmented as they were beautiful. A large part of what makes Spiderland so memorable is the way Slint build so much from so little; there's a great deal of space in Brian McMahan and David Pajo's guitar patterns, but they mesh together in a way that brings out the strength in one another, and Britt Walford's drumming frequently abandons the traditional backbeat in favor of spacious, exploratory rhythms that add color and detail as much as maintaining the rhythms. (Todd Brashear's bass ultimately holds down the root of this music with greater force than anything else.) Music this powerful is rarely so quiet for so long, but Slint forge a tremendous dramatic tension in these 6 songs, and even when the chime of the guitars breaks forth into a roar, the result isn't a rent in the governing emotions of the songs as much as the logical conclusion this music was destined to take (the phrase "tone poems" may seem pretentious, but it really does fit these songs). It took years for Spiderland to be acknowledged as one of the most important indie albums of the '90s, and that seems fitting: this is music that demands a certain patience and participation from the listener, and word of mouth seems a curiously but absolutely fitting way to spread the word about a band that says so much with so few words. Alternately spectral and overwhelming, Spiderland is a singular achievement; plenty of bands would follow Slint's creative example in the years that followed, but few of them came close to the mysterious power and forbidding beauty of this music.
- Release Date:
- Touch & Go Records
Performance CreditsSlint Primary Artist
Britt Walford Drums
Brian McMahan Electric Guitar,Vocals
David Pajo Guitar
Todd Brashear Bass
Technical CreditsSlint Composer
Steve Albini Producer
Brian Paulson Engineer
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There are a small number of independently released albums that aren't merely great, but classic. Think of the original pressings of "Closer" or "Daydream Nation." "Spiderland" is one of those albums; contrary to the review posted here, I think it's immeasurably underrated. It's one of those cult records musicians worship - PJ Harvey would listen to it and nothing else for periods of time. Steve Albini, indie-noise guru, has publicly admitted that "Washer" gets him misty-eyed, which says something for the Louisville lads. After all, Albini's usual musical persona is one of a callous, cynical derd niffer. "Tweez" is underrated; it's a joke, but a pretty damned amusing and fun one. "Spiderland" on the other hand, takes itself seriously and doesn't fall flat on its face. Most of Slint's points are won by the sheer uniqueness of music; there's nothing else quite like it in rock. People can draw comparisons to math rock bands that followed, but frankly, what was Slint's reference point? However they did it, they did, offering listeners strange time signatures, spoken word vocals, and intense, emotionally charged songs that mastered tension and release. "Spiderland" is far more haunted, depressing, and foreboding that their first record, but repeated plays prove that it's a vision that pays dividends. Give it a spin if you want to hear the most underrated record of the nineties. Just don't wind up like Slint, who faced institutions and rubber rooms upon completing the recording.