slint – spiderland

i can guarantee that in 1991 i was not thinking about music like this. i had just entered high school in what was ostensibly a rural area. that meant it was a small cohort, none of whom would ever have imagined that this was cool let alone heard it. i mean, the end of year charts here in australia that year showed up the likes of bryan adams, guns n roses, vanilla ice, c & c music factory, the klf and the simpsons, for fuck’s sake. two years hence, my independent taste in music was starting to form itself much more clearly, and thankfully never included any of those bands above anyway.

there is no doubt that slint were so much further in advance of anything to which they were contemporary in the strictest sense of the word. think about the fact that we had just emerged from the 1980s filled with synthetic, new wave, punk, stadium rock and glam metal popularity, and a band like nirvana was becoming the next big shift in music (who had a weirdly parallel genesis to slint). thus, slint fit into a remarkable place between the two which is where i think i’ve been ever since (disregarding my few bandwagon moments), and in hindsight i owe so much to them.

my first foray into the music of members/linked artists was far from the aural aesthetic of slint about six years beyond this album. after reading his name a few times over, i finally worked out who dave pajo was and what he was doing at the time. again, in the days before the internet was the behemoth that it is now, i had to convince myself that he was the dude playing a guitar in a kitchen with will oldham on the back cover of lost blues and other songs. and that made it worth tracking down some of his own music. of that i have already written a couple of times, and it’s nothing like slint.

what slint did was not commercial which is probably in part why it wasn’t of the same perceived importance or influence as other emerging bands at the time. there have never really been many songs that go for six minutes that can be played on radio of any kind and enter the collective consciousness. i mean, the yoof in america were listening to college radio and had, like all young people, attention spans no longer than the time it took to empty a plastic cup of beer down their throats. but clearly this isn’t why slint made the music they did.

while you can draw a few bows in sound to other bands such as tortoise and even archers of loaf, the influence they had and particularly this album is cited as monumental and of a more ethereal sort than actually hearing similarities or plagiarised passages. to this end, you can read the wikipedia entry for the album, which is lengthy, to get an idea for precisely what the music itself is like. i’m staying well clear of any labels, because in my mind it was of no other kind. rock fits it best, but not in a generic or reductionist kind of way. it seemed to be what guitars and drums were designed to do in their most perfect form.

so, here at least i can leave on a note of indicative remark, listen for yourself:


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