Album review: the fantastical journey of Slint's Spiderland
Many words have been spilled about this album, but few words have addressed the meaning of the titular "spider land". Is the album named as such because of the picture of the spider on the back cover? If so, why did the spider get there on the back in the first place? There's something central beneath this album behind the seemingly simplistic lyrics.
In fact, the rich story this album tells of "a voyage to the spiderland" provides a rich conceptual thread that ties the album together, worthy of Jules Verne. The way I see it, this album divides naturally into six parts. Through these chapters we learn of Slint's journey through the spiderland: first following the trail of breadcrumbs left by the spiders to lure them; narrowly escaping the blood drain of the dreaded giant spider known as "Nosferatu Man" (a bitter irony -- since he is a spider, not a man -- reinforced by the arrhythmic stabs of distorted guitar that pepper the song); encountering Don (who, in beautiful duality with the previous track, is "aman", not "aspider"); washing themselves in the hidden pools of the spider cavern; narrowly escaping being eaten "for dinner" by spiders, and then narrowly escaping the spiderland, escorted by The Captain. Despite the perils they encountered, Bryan McMahon's resonating screams of "I miss you." at the end subtly suggest that he will miss the adventures they had together.
This album is often held up as the genesis of "math rock", but this designation isn't flippant, or facetious. The album is suffused with the mathematical imagery of spiders. Every spider has 8 legs, and 8 eyes, and this album's 6 parts represent the 6 additional legs and eyes that a spider has in comparison to a human--3 on each side (just like this record). It's hardly going to help you brush up your algebra, but the numerological motifs give this album an extra layer that's sure to appeal to mathematicians everywhere.