SLINT – ” Spiderland ” Classic Albums

Posted: October 14, 2022 in MUSIC

Everybody compared us to King Crimson and Pink Floyd,” Slint bassist Todd Brashear told Prog magazine way back in 2014, when “Spiderland”, the band’s second album, was reissued. Originally released in 1991, “Spiderland” is as good an early example as any of the quiet/loud dynamic beloved of most post-rock bands. In a twisting maelstrom of time signatures, angular rhythms and the kind of space afforded music by latter-day Talk Talk, the influence of Sonic Youth is as evident as the proggier bands mentioned earlier.

Spiderland” was the second and final studio album by the American rock band Slint. It contains six songs played over 40 minutes, and was released by Touch and Go Records on March 27th, 1991. Slint’s line-up at the time of recording comprised Brian McMahan on vocals and guitar, David Pajo on guitar, Todd Brashear on bass guitar and Britt Walford on drums. “Spiderland” was engineered by Brian Paulson and recorded over four days in August 1990. The music and vocal melodies were composed throughout the summer of 1990, while lyrics were written in-studio.

Forming in 1986 in Louisville, Kentucky, Slint had met as teenagers playing in the Midwestern punk scene but soon diverged sonically from their hardcore roots. By the time they recorded “Spiderland” in late 1990, the band had developed a complex, idiosyncratic sound characterized by atypical rhythmic meters, harmonic dissonance and irregular song structures. McMahan’s vocal delivery on the record alternates between spoken word, singing and shouting. The lyrics are presented in a narrative style and cover themes such as unease, social anxiety, loneliness, and despair.

The album’s guitar work is noted for its roomy sound, angular rhythms, dramatically alternating dynamic shifts, and irregular time signatures. McMahan’s singing style varies among mumbling, spoken word, strained shouting, and a written-narrative style. Influences on the record included Gang of Four, Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth. 

Spin summarized the album’s sound as “mid-’70s King Crimson gone emo: screeching guitar chords and gorgeous note-spinning in odd-metered instrumentals speckled with words both spoken and sung”. Melody Maker described the music as “structurally and in tone”, saying that the band “recall[s] Television circa Marquee Moon and Crazy Horse, whose simplicity they echo and whose style they most certainly do not”.

Slint broke up shortly before the album’s release due to McMahan’s depression. In the US, “Spiderland” initially attracted little critical attention and sold poorly. However, a warm reception from UK music papers and gradually increasing sales in subsequent years helped it develop a significant cult following. 

Spiderland” is widely regarded as foundational to the 1990s post-rock and math rock movements, and is cited by critics as a milestone of indie and experimental rock, inspiring a myriad of subsequent artists. Slint reunited in 2005 to perform the album in its entirety across three international tours.

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