100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #37

Slint – Spiderland
“This recording is meant to be listened to on vinyl.” says the back of the ‘Spiderland’ CD. Placing the needle into the first track and it’s easy to see why. ‘Spiderland’ feels locked in a time period that does not exist; it’s a bleak, monochrome purgatory. The lyrics were hastily written in the studio and are fairly basic, and the delivery is often fairly blank, but the musical environments they inhabit emphasise every nuance until they become minor epics; aural cinema. The music is a weird beast. Sometimes it sounds slightly like metal, but shies away from excess in favour of brooding subtlety. It never sounds aggressive; the narrator is either a bystander or a victim to unfortunate circumstances, and while these “circumstances” are never violent, they’re injected with a seething, simmering intensity which is as thrilling as it is slightly creepy and intimidating. It swings between periods of serpentine quiet and bellowing volumes. However, ‘Spiderland’s main feature, that sets it apart from everything else released at the time, is that it’s not trying to seize your attention; it just happens to exist and it doesn’t care that you’re totally under its spell. It’s definitely not a pop record. I probably only listen to it around four times a year on average – which is why I only own it on vinyl – but without exception, it easily blows me away every time. Fun fact: Brian McMahan’s spine-jangling agonised howl at the end of ‘Good Morning, Captain’ is so loud to compete with the guitars that he was physically sick afterwards. Pretty much every band in the so-called post-rock genre owes its career to this record.
Listen to: Breadcrumb Trail


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