"A reviewer below said that, and I don't think truer words could be said about this album.
Back in 1991, I was writing for a fanzine. I'd become friends with one of the other writers, and he was the one who generally got first pick of the many pre-release copies that were sent in for review. Whenever I went over to his place he'd turn me on to stuff from the latest batch that he thought was worthy of our attention. One day he said "This record is amazing, you really need to hear this." He put Spiderland on and the first song, Breadcrumb Trail, began playing. After a couple of minutes I became restless and so he skipped to the next song. Then to the next. As he turned the record over to side 2, I asked something like "So is that all they do?" He sighed and said "Man, you don't get it." And he was right, I didn't. Back in those days I was listening exclusively to noisy, scary stuff like the Melvins, Jesus Lizard, Helmet, Laughing Hyenas, etc. Meanwhile, much of the music on Spiderland is barely half a step above pure silence. Lyrics are muttered or whispered. The crystal clean guitars sound like their strings are made of delicate spun glass that would shatter if strummed too hard. This music was so incredibly subdued and low key, it simply did not compute for me. But it did for him, and it seemed like any time I went over to his place after that, he was always listening to Spiderland. I made it a habit to basically ignore it as background ambiance.
A few weeks or maybe months later, I was browsing around in a record shop. The clerk was playing something on the stereo. It was very familiar and pleasing to my ears, but I couldn't figure out what it was. I had to ask him to find out that it was, of course, Spiderland. It had taken some time, but it had finally managed to worm its way into my head and into my heart. That was when I bought my own copy. It's been somewhere in my All Time Top 5 ever since."
Proto math-rock? Post-rock? Whatever. It's amazing.
Shotgun Method | NY... No, not *that* NY | 03/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wow. I can't emphazise enough how good Slint's Spiderland actually is. I know that sounds like overblown fanboy gushing, and it probably is, but hear me out. Released in 1992, Spiderland was forgotten amidst the waves of Seattle grunge, and that's too bad, for this is an incredibly unique work.
This Louisville, Kentucky quartet was once a hardcore punk outfit, though you would never realize it by listening to this album. The guitars are spidery, the tempos slow and methodical, and the vocalist recites muted spoken word in the darkened recesses. The arrangements are somewhat spare and repetitious on first listen, yet there is an underlying mathematical structure to them--the buildups are truly staggering in their power. Overall, the sound is distant, dark, and vaguely unsettling. This album conveys the sound of an overcast and windy autumn night, the leaves rustling in the trees, the fog rolling in. Delicate and meloncholy, yet shadowy and intense at the same time.
Spiderland rewards a patient listener. The songs are extended somewhat, hovering in between five to almost nine minutes. The chiming guitars of the opener Breadcrumb Trail begin the journey, followed by the wonderfully creepy Nosferatu Man, probably the most aggressive track on the album. Don, Aman is a moody piece full of whispered lyrics and strummed guitars that ominously build and build, until a wave of distortion breaks through as if to signify something dramatic and terrible has happened. Washer, the longest track, is a downbeat and poignant song full of yearning and emotionally naked lyrics. This is not "emo"--this is way more powerful and moving than any whinery that the likes of Conor Oberst can muster up. "Wash yourself in your tears, and build your church on the strength of your faith.."
For Dinner.. is an instrumental. While it is not the strongest track on the album, it serves as a breather for the finale Good Morning, Captain, one of the most emotionally intense pieces of music I've ever heard. The way the singer whispers toward the end, "I'm trying to find my way home..I'm sorry, and I miss you," followed by a dramatic crescendo and his cries of "I miss you!"--it leaves a pit in my stomach. Every time. Sounds cliche, I know, but it must be heard to be believed.
Although later post-rock bands such as Tortoise, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and Explosions In The Sky have attempted to replicate the power of this album, nothing can beat the original. Spiderland is pure emotion set to music, and one of the most powerful records of the '90s. Calling it "essential" is an understatement."
"I liked the product so much, I bought the company" --S. Alb
T.A. | South Florida | 03/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Slint are the forefathers of Math-Rock, or whatever you want to call the Shellac-Fugazi-Jesus Lizard-Clutch sound. If you are a fan of these bands, get all three of Slint's releases. Trust me--after one listen, you'll wonder why you waited so long! Everything the other reviewers say is true, including Steve Albini himself. This CD is, in a word, perfect.
I will say this: Spiderland affected producer Steve Albini so deeply, he formed another one of his "crazy, self-indulgent" bands and based it primarily on the foundation of Slint's sound. He called this new band SHELLAC. Shellac's first CD, "At Action Park," almost sounds like Spiderland part II, ("Bosche's dick" is a song about Slint's sound guy; they also had help from Slint techy Jennifer Hartman) as Steve and his band mates recreate and nearly pick-up where Slint left off after their 1992 break up.
Shellac (and other bands like it) are influenced so deeply by Slint, their recordings almost sounds like an homage. But don't call Shellac posers or copy-cats; the members of Slint were playing hard core and punk in the mid-80's, as was Steve Albini and his bands Big Black and Rapeman (which coincidentally included Jesus Lizard's bass player in its line-up). In fact, these artists are so closely and simultaneously linked, where else will you find a label claiming analog recordings rule? Only on a Slint or Big Black recording, my friend."
Alex Fencl | Cleveland, OH | 04/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Slint to pieces. This record is so unique on so many different levels. Words may not do justice here, but i always think of "Spiderland" as a concept album: that being a monumental night terror one night.
You are falling asleep at the beginning, and by the end of "Breadcrumb Trail," you are in R.E.M. sleep.
...Now begins the nightmare ("Nosferatu Man")
...The night-terror takes hold of your body ("Don, Aman")
...and now the aftershocks ("Washer")
..you reconcile your inner-demons and begin to wake from the night ("For Dinner...)
...finally, you wake from the dream and your life will never be the same ever again ("Good Morning, Captain")
I still find nuances that I have not yet experienced in this record. Oh, another plus, one of the best album covers/promo photos ever"
"In the mirror, he saw his friend."
Graeme Wallis | Newcastle, England | 06/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Unheard of by many, revered by almost all those that own it, Slint's second (and last) album is regarded as one of the most influential alternative records ever released.
Brian McMahan's primarily spoken vocals offer a haunting juxtaposition to David Pajo's (later of Tortoise and Zwan) jaggedly ornate guitar playing, with the lyrics seemingly having little connection to the stop-start syncopation of the instrumental. From McMahan's tale of a ride on a roller-coaster with a gypsy fortune teller at a carnival in Spiderland's opener 'Breadcrumb Trail' to his reworking of Coleridge's opus The Rime of the Ancient Mariner ('Good Morning, Captain'), at the album's close, Slint's final work runs the gamut of marginal human experience, abstracted against a backdrop of jazz time signatures and 'spidery' guitars, to create a stifling air of impending doom. For all that however, 'Washer' is one of the most startlingly beautiful elegies committed to record.
Sexy, claustrophobic, unashamedly arty and conceptual, Spiderland is considered by many to be the first true 'post-rock' album, following their Steve Albini-recorded 'post-hardcore' debut, Tweez (1989)."