Slint were a Kentucky band, who originated from punk band Squirrel Bait. I never connected with their Albini produced debut Tweez, but their Spiderland, their second and final album from 1991 is a significant album. Although again it had little commercial impact it’s almost indisputably recognised as alternative classic and extremely influential record. What’s remarkable is the range of moods and textures that the band is able to coax out of a simple two guitar, bass, and drums band – it’s often pointed to as a pioneering record for post rock, but most other post-rock bands have a more a wider sound sound palette. It takes a few listens for these songs to sink in, but Spiderland is a fascinating record; there’s plenty happening with the shifting time signatures, the uniquely dry sonic palette and production, and the expert use of dynamics.
The most accessible material is at either end of the album – the precise riffs of the opening ‘Breadcrumb Trail’ and the album’s best known song is the cathartic ‘Good Morning, Captain’ both feature relatively audible vocals and almost headbanging climaxes. ‘Nosferatu Man’ is surprisingly abrasive and heavy with its constant guitar riffs, while ‘Don Aman’ slowly simmers over its ominous four minutes before suddenly launching into bursts of guitar noise. ‘Washer’ probably covers the most stylistic ground on the album over its nine minute running time and the only disappointment is the penultimate ‘For Dinner’, which is pretty much non-eventful apart from the spasms of guitar noise. Spiderland is a landmark record that any open minded rock fan should try; it’s not quite a flawless classic but it’s idiosyncratic and personable. Apart from a two song EP in 1994 Spiderland was Slint’s last record, and members have appeared in other bands including Tortoise and Billy Corgan’s Zwan. The iconic black and white cover photo with the four band members immersed in water was taken by fellow Kentucky musician Will Oldham.