Slint
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Tweez, 7/10
Spiderland, 9/10
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Slint, formed by Squirrel Bait's guitarist Brian McMahan and also featuring drummer Britt Walford, bassist Ethan Buckler and guitarist David Pajo, represented a major shift in musical purpose: they were more intimidating than exciting. The mostly-instrumental music of Tweez (1989) kept the tension and the neurosis of hardcore but lost the passion and the narrative logic. It was "pointless" music. It was a stylistic black hole which sucked the history of rock music, in which the history of rock music virtually ended. It wasn't exactly acid-rock, although it indulged in similar free-form approach, it wasn't progressive-rock although it exhibited the same brainy stance, it wasn't heavy-metal, although it relied on forceful guitar work, it wasn't free-jazz or avantgarde classical music, although it shared with them a penchant for innovative structures. Spiderland (1991) was even more abstract. Its harmonic zigzags through irregular tempos, fractured melodies and discordant counterpoint were as disorienting as notes scribbled in an unknown language. Vapid moribund passages were inundated by sudden tidal waves of sound, or, better, given the glacial tone of the band's jamming, arctic quiet was shaken by icebergs cracking in the ocean. The whole album flew in a dis-organic manner, but still retained an odd sense of unity. It sounded like the stream of consciousness of a mathematician's brain as it was solving a difficult theorem.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Eufemia Campagna)

Slint was one of the most influential groups of their time.

From the highest branch of the most complicated genealogical tree of the Squirrel Bait, Slint was formed through the work of guitarist Brian McMahon (not to be confused with Brian McMahon of the Electric Eels) and drummer Britt Walford, with Ethan Buckler on base and David Pajo on second guitar. The group recorded some sessions in 1987 with Steve Albini, which would not be brought to light until two years later. Their sound was something completely new. It was governed by an instrumental chemistry that was delicate, feverish and fractured all at the same time. It melted together techniques of acid, progressive and punk rock, as well as free-jazz and chamber music of the avant-guard.

The album Tweez (Jennifer Hartman, 1989) is one of the most revolutionary works in rock history. Every piece is dedicated to a parent of the quartet (and even the dog of one of them) -- not even Robert Wyatt had ever succeeded in composing such abstract dedications. The music is conceptual, heavily rhythmic (often counter rhythm), nervously noisy and mostly instrumental. It is committed to a stormy tonality and contorted designs, completely outside its classification. The atmosphere, at the same time ethereal and dense, continually comes back into play. It's like listening to a much more eclectic and extravagant version of Big Black.
The instrumental score of pieces like Ron initiates the driving force of punk rock with the improvisation of old progressive rock. The group continually reinvents its own style, often mixing a touch of the traditional with techniques of the avantguarde or jazz. The country and western figures of Pat are disfigured with a dissonant digression and jazzed up by the guitar. The instrumental Rhoda is practically entirely comprised of the striking attack of toneless guitar pitches typical of Big Black. The mutated blues of Kent is a refined masterpiece of dramatic development, instrumental lacing, counterpoints and counterbalances. And Nan Ding boasts one of the most creative guitar solos of the time.
The emotions provoked by these abstract concepts are similar to those demonstrated by a difficult mathematical theorem than those of adolescents in search of excitement. The burning riffs, the mechanical cadences, the "sounds" of Charlotte and Carol, the galloping rhythms and the deafening distortions of Warren, instead constitute the music's darker side. At the same time the delicate atmospheres of Darlene allow us to enter a spiral of light in a work that is a dense crowding of innovative ideas.

Gli Slint furono uno dei complessi piu` influenti della loro epoca. Con loro nacque l'idea di una musica che conservava la tensione e le nevrosi dell'hardcore ma che aveva perso del tutto non solo la sua passione ma anche un qualsiasi cenno di logica narrativa. Quelli dei brani degli Slint erano suoni fini a se stessi, suoni ne' eleganti ne' cerebrali ne' manieristici: semplicemente suoni. Il gruppo suonava come un gruppo di musica rock, ma senza che venisse rispettato uno solo dei dogmi del rock (eccetto la strumentazione). Non era cantato, non era cadenzato, non era centrato su una melodia. Era un buco nero in cui cadevano i "segni" del rock, in cui idealmente finiva la storia della musica rock.

Ennesimo ramo del complicatissimo albero genealogico degli Squirrel Bait, gli Slint si formarono per opera del chitarrista Brian McMahon (non quello degli Electric Eels) e del batterista Britt Walford, con Ethan Buckler al basso e David Pajo alla seconda chitarra. Il gruppo registro` alcune sessioni nel 1987 con Steve Albini, che avrebbero visto la luce soltanto due anni dopo. Il loro sound era qualcosa di completamente nuovo. Si reggeva su una chimica strumentale al tempo stesso delicata, febbricitante e fratturata. Fondeva tecniche dell'acid-rock, del progressive-rock e del punk-rock, se non anche del free-jazz e della musica da camera d'avanguardia. Ci avevano provato in pochi: il progressive-rock, la psichedelia piu` dilatata, il kraut-rock... Ma la musica degli Slint non assomigliava a nessuno di questi. Era figlia dell'hardcore, anche se non aveva piu` nulla in comune con l'hardcore.

L'album Tweez (Jennifer Hartman, 1989) e` uno dei lavori piu` rivoluzionari della storia del rock. Ogni brano e` dedicato a un genitore del quartetto (piu` il cane di uno dei quattro), ma neppure Robert Wyatt era mai riuscito a comporre delle dediche cosi` astratte. La musica e` concettuale, pesantemente ritmata (spesso controtempo), nervosamente rumorosa e prevalentemente strumentale, affidata a timbriche buffe e a trame contorte, completamente fuori dai generi. L'atmosfera, al tempo stesso eterea e densa, viene continuamente rimessa in discussione. E` come ascoltare una versione molto piu` eclettica e fantasiosa dei Big Black.
Le partiture strumentali di brani come Ron accoppiano l'impeto del punk-rock all'improvvisazione del vecchio progressive rock. Il gruppo reinventa continuamente il proprio stile, spesso mescolando un accenno di genere tradizionale con tecniche di avanguardia o jazz. Le figure country & western di Pat sono sfigurate da divagazioni dissonanti e jazzate della chitarra. Lo strumentale Rhoda e` praticamente composto soltanto dall'attacco percussivo a timbri atonali della chitarra tipico dei Big Black. Il blues mutante di Kent e` un capolavoro raffinatissimo di svolgimento drammatico, di intrecci strumentali, di contrappunti e contrappesi. E Nan Ding vanta uno degli assoli di chitarra piu` creativi di quegli anni.
Le emozioni provocate da queste congetture astratte sono piu` simili a quelle del matematico che dimostra un difficile teorema piuttosto che a quelle degli adolescenti in cerca di eccitazione. I riff brucianti, le cadenze meccaniche, i "rumori" di Charlotte e Carol, i ritmi galoppanti e le distorsioni assordanti di Warren, costituiscono invece il versante piu` scuro di questa musica. Allo stesso modo le atmosfere delicate di Darlene lasciano entrare uno spiraglio di luce in un'opera che e` un denso agglomerato di idee innovative.

Spiderland (Touch & Go, 1991) is a masterpieces in rock history. Leveraging from experiments of preceding years, Slint is now completing a more sophisticated search on rhythm and resonance, culminating in an almost transcendental quality.
Instead of being simple abstract panels, pieces like Breadcrumb Trail are "narration's", which no matter how complicated and convoluted, continue a dramatic harmonic zigzag (as founded in blues).
The lattice continuously dilates and contracts. Don Aman indulges in an avant-garde performance by playing with guitar chords such that, if played at the correct tempo, would be melodious, but played with longer and irregular pauses, are only a sequence of chords. The effect is hypnotic however, much like in New Age acoustic pieces, even if confounded with a very "rock" neurosis. Washer, with its whispered lullaby, sickening beats, and slow development, is derived as much from "nocturnal" blues as from the broader acid rock, which calls to mind the "slowcore" of Codeine. For Dinner is an even more "narcotic", anemic, seething and drowsy piece.
Almost all the pieces among this delirium are the improvised beginnings of hard rock. Nosferatu Man is probably the one most stricken by these starts. The last piece, Good Morning Captain, acts as a small resurgence of all of these lofty techniques, alternating itself with tones of a wearied guitar, neglected percussion tempos and haunting vocals. The effect is exactly that of erecting an iceberg for tragic suspense. It constitutes one of the most upsetting musical narrations in the history of modern rock.
This is what makes Spiderland a monumental work, in its capacity to construct rock music without reconstructing the stereotypes of its genre, without recourse to iconic sounds or prefabricated codes, that have always constituted the principle channels of rock expression.

(The following is a revised version, published on Nude as the News). Spiderland doesn't attenuate the experimental grasp of the Slint's sound. Rather, it accents the Louisville band's search for rhythm and timbre. The coarse blues in "Kent" and "Breadcrumb Trail" feature harmonies that are just as chaotic and interlocutory than on the group's first record. Brian McMahon indulges in a concert of avant-garde guitar chords that, played in a normal tempo, would be melodic. But played with such long, irregular breaks, are only a sequence - a hypnotic effect mirrored in the acoustic passages of new age music and ravaged by Slint's very "rock" neuroses. The slow progressions of "Washer," with its whispers and pulsations, owe more to night-time blues than acid-rock, giving birth to the music of future slow-core progenitors such as Codeine. "For Dinner" is even more narcotic, anemic and drowsy.
Almost all of the passages, despite these excursions, feature sudden winces of hard, hard rock, with "Nosferatu Man" perhaps more struck by this than any other track. The closer, "Good Morning Captain," seems to summarize all of these highbrow techniques, alternating between fragments of irritable guitar and haunting vocal recitations. The effect erects an iceberg of tragic suspense, and actually constitutes a true upsetting of modern rock history.
Spiderland expresses emotions often put aside in modern rock, bucking stereotypes and never resorting to the prefabricated ideas of earlier sonic icons. Slint have achieved the nirvana of alternative rock, wedding masterful playing, thoughtful composing and lyrical expression to a degree seldom reached by popular music.

Spiderland (Touch & Go, 1991) e` un altro dei capolavori della storia del rock. Facendo leva sugli esperimenti degli anni precedenti, gli Slint compiono ora una ricerca ancor piu` sofisticata su ritmi e timbriche, e finiscono per pervenire a una qualita` quasi trascendente.
Invece che essere semplici pannelli astratti, brani come Breadcrumb Trail sono "narrazioni", per quanto complesse e convolute, il cui continuo zigzag armonico (peraltro fondato sul blues) ha un senso drammatico. (Scrive Lorenzo Casaccia: "Il disco si apre su uno degli incipit piu' originali del decennio: la battuta di tre armonici, pausa e due terzine di Breadcrumb Trail.")
Il lattice si dilata e si contrae in continuazione. Don Aman indulge in un concerto d'avanguardia per accordi di chitarra che, suonati al tempo giusto, sarebbero melodici, ma suonati con pause piu` lunghe e irregolari, sono soltanto una sequenza di accordi; l'effetto e` comunque ipnotico come nei brani acustici della new age, anche se sotteso da una nevrosi molto "rock". La cantilena bisbigliata, i battiti moribondi, le lente evoluzioni di Washer discendono tanto dai blues piu` "notturni" quando dall'acidrock piu` "dilatato", e anticipano lo "slowcore" dei Codeine. For Dinner e` ancor piu` "narcotico", anemico, abulico, assonnato.
Quasi tutti i brani, nel mezzo di queste delizie, hanno improvvisi sussulti di rock "duro", e Nosferatu Man e` forse quello piu` colpito da queste scosse. L'ultimo, Good Morning Captain, funge un po' da riassunto di tutte queste tecniche d'alta classe, dall'alternarsi di toni alle frasi annoiate di chitarra, dai tempi trasandati della batteria alla recitazione thriller. E l'effetto e` proprio quello di erigere un iceberg di suspense tragica, che costituisce una delle narrazioni in musica piu` sconvolgenti della storia del rock moderno.
Cio` che fa di Spiderland un lavoro monumentale e` la sua capacita` di costruire musica rock senza rifarsi agli stereotipi dei suoi generi, senza ricorrere alle icone sonore, ai codici prefabbricati, che da sempre costituiscono i principali canali espressivi del rock.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Eufemia Campagna)

The group disbanded almost immediately, victim of the same instability that occurred with Squirrel Bait. Buckler formed King Kong, Walford went on to join Breeders and then formed Evergreen (1996 - Temporary Residence, 2003). Dave Pajo became one of the most requested musicians and will play even in Tortoise. Brian McMahon, after a long absence from the scene, gave life to another group of great prominence: For Carnation

In 1994 an EP was published (Touch And Go) with two brief, previously unpublished (and anonymous) instrumental pieces.

Brian McMahan, David Pajo and Britt Walford reformed Slint in 2005.

Slint reformed in 2005.

Il gruppo si sciolse quasi subito, vittima della stessa instabilita` che era stata degli Squirrel Bait. Buckler formo` i King Kong, Walford passo` nei Breeders e un numero imprecisato di loro aiutarono i Palace Brothers. Dave Pajo diventera` uno dei musicisti piu` richiesti e suonera` anche nei Tortoise. Brian McMahon, dopo una lunga assenza dalle scene, dara` vita a un'altra formazione di grande rilievo, i For Carnation

Nel 1994 e` stato pubblicato (Touch And Go) un EP con due brevi inediti (e anonimi) brani strumentali.

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