Spiderland? What the hell is that? In 1991, a record from a band called Slint landed on the shelves of record stores representing the underground scene. It is a real celebrated album. Spiderland opened doors to a great progression in music and reinvented rock without leaving its primary components behind. Brian McMahon’s voice is a balance of grungy growls and soft whispering with narration. This creates a sublime atmosphere. A cold and dark mood surrounds the record. Actually, it is really intense, sometimes appearing to arrive at the doorsteps of suicidal states of major depression. I would not be surprised if some of the guys in the group had to be committed during the recording sessions. When I listen to the music of Slint, its like I’m floating downstream and being told a story without a happy ending. There are disturbing aspects of adolescent life that are painfully exposed through Brian’s vocals.
But, these guys were actually pretty simple fellas at the time. Upon listening to the first couple of tracks, you realize that it is opening up in a calm environment but slowly progressing towards a shady and swampy era. Guitar relationships and distortions create a strange and yet original effect. I swear these instruments literally sound as if spiders or creatures from the deep are awakening and actually crawling all over the strings and amplifiers. The sound and tone of Spiderland is slowly building towards a climax with heartache and bruises along the way until it reaches it’s energizing finale. Most certainly, the final track entitled, “Good Morning Captain,” is the album at its peak. It is their most well known composition too. Every time I hear it, I get chills thinking about the loss of friends in a terrible event. The combination of a two guitar approach with creepy narration (no singing) create beautiful and near perfect ambiance. All of this brings us to the final explosion, with a fierce scream of “I’m in hell, I’m in hell, I miss you…”
The recording, in general, makes the listener aware of difference in our world. The band creates an extremely depressing atmosphere with subtle guitar riffs. The sound is trembling, tense and nerve racking. I feel like I am getting close to the edge but not quite going over. It is mind blowing to grasp that four young kids had an amazing visionary construction of rock, opening doors to bands like Helmet, Tool and well much of the post-rock scene. I implore all grunge enthusiasts out there to find your way to a mom and pop record shop. While you’re there, grab a copy of Slint’s Spiderland on cd, vinyl or even on a cassette tape. Play it loud too. This is going to resonate with you for a long time.