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Context Music / Spiderland

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1[[quoteright:350:]]²[[caption-width-right:350: [[CarefulWithThatAxe I MISS YOU]]]]²²->''There was a sound at the window then.''\²''The captain started, his breath was still.''\²''Slowly,''\²''He turned.''²-->--'''"Good Morning, Captain"'''²²In March 1991, a record with a black and white photo of four men -- no band name, no album name -- floating in an abandoned quarry, staring and [[TheUnsmile smiling]] right at the camera, began to appear in music stores. Those pulled in by the cover would find themselves [[ShroudedInMyth enwrapped in a world of mystique]] -- the band had broken up before the album's release, the music on the album was dark and depressing with lyrics emphasising isolation, and one of the members supposedly had to be institutionalised during/after the recording (the rumour varies); it was as if it was cursed. Despite being largely ignored on its release, the few that did hear it bore witness to something different, giving birth to a [[PostRock new genre.]] Over twenty years on, it's now considered one of the most influential releases of all time.²²''Spiderland'' is the sophomore and final album by American PostHardcore[=/=]MathRock band Music/{{Slint}}, released through Creator/TouchAndGoRecords on March 27, 1991. [[NewSoundAlbum A very marked departure from]] their first album ''Tweez,'' ''Spiderland'' set itself apart by removing itself of traditional hardcore structures, instead focusing on usage of long crescendos and sudden diminuendos (today, the term "Slint Dynamics" is used for dynamics similar to the ones featured on this album) and narrative lyrics delivered in [[SpokenWordInMusic spoken word.]] Fueling the mysteriousness around the album was the TroubledProduction: the entire thing was stressfully recorded over four nights, and singer Brian [=Mc=]Mahan threw his voice and became physically ill after recording the LP's final track, "Good Morning, Captain".²²Notable for, along with ''Music/LaughingStock'' by Music/TalkTalk, [[TropeMakers pioneering the genre]] known as PostRock, which would in turn bring about artists such as Music/{{Swans}} and Music/GodspeedYouBlackEmperor to help [[TropeCodifier define what post-rock could be.]] Also brought profound influence on MathRock and underground music in general. The band has since reunited, are touring and are rumoured to be working on new material. ''Breadcrumb Trail,'' a {{Rockumentary}} about the album's recording, was released in 2015.²----²²!! Tracklist:²[[AC:A]]²# "Breadcrumb Trail" (5:56)²# "Nosferatu Man" (5:35)²# "Don, Aman" (6:28)²²[[AC:B]]²# "Washer" (8:50)²# "For Dinner..." (5:06)²# "Good Morning, Captain" (7:39)²----²²!! Principal members:²²* Brian [=Mc=]Mahan - Vocals, guitar²* David Pajo - Guitar²* Todd Brashear - Bass²* Britt Walford - Drums, guitar, vocals (spoken word verses in "Nosferatu Man", latter two for "Don, Aman")²----²²!! I shouted and searched the tropes for a friend:²²* AlbumIntroTrack: "Breadcrumb Trail" is pretty much a preview for the rest of the album.²* AllLowercaseLetters: The liner notes.²* AmusementPark: The setting for "Breadcrumb Trail".²* AntiClimax[=/=]SurprisinglyHappyEnding: The story behind "Breadcrumb Trail" starts off relatively normal before descending into a weird and terrifying experience. Then, just as suddenly as it all began, all the surreal aspects of the song end and we're treated to the protagonist simply leaving.²* BreatherEpisode: "For Dinner..." serves as the cooldown track between "[[{{Tearjerker}} Washer]]" and "[[TheClimax Good Morning, Captain]]".²* BrownNote: Was this for the band.²** There was a rumour that one of the band members got institutionalised after recording. This was [[WordOfGod later confirmed]] to be Brian.²* BuffySpeak: "Breadcrumb Trail" with: "I pulled back the drape thing on the tent".²** This was how ''Spiderland'' got its name: [=Mc=]Mahan's younger brother, upon hearing the album, said that it sounded "spidery".²* ByronicHero: The main character of "Nosferatu Man" is essentially this.²* CarefulWithThatAxe: The chorus of "Nosferatu Man" and the ending to "Good Morning, Captain", the latter of which made Brian ''vomit'' right after.²* ClassicalAntiHero: Don of "Don, Aman" has many elements of this character type.²* ConceptAlbum: Though it's more like a short story collection than a novel. The lyrics all tell tales of alienation. There are also EpilepticTrees that all the songs also have themes of sleep, dreaming, and death, as argued [[ here]]. References to water are also common, starting with the cover.²* CallBack: The raging guitars toward the middle of "Good Morning, Captain" echo the guitar part of the chorus of "Breadcrumb Trail."²* CerebusSyndrome: While still creepy and having that same horror undercurrent as the rest of the album, "Breadcrumb Trail" at least has some semblance of a positive time and a happy ending. After that, however, the mood of the album plummets immediately and doesn't let up.²* CosmicHorrorStory and GothicHorror: Several songs' lyrics have strong elements of these. Even the ones that aren't explicitly horror stories still have an unsettling undercurrent.²* CreepyMonotone: Brian [=Mc=]Mahan and Britt Walford's spoken word parts. As creepy as Brian's are, "Don, Aman" shows that Britt can make it even creepier.²* DarkerAndEdgier: Compared to ''Tweez.''²** Can also be seen as this trope when compared to ''Music/LaughingStock.'' Both are the TropeMakers for PostRock with six tracks and at roughly the same runtime (''Laughing Stock'' is about three minutes longer) that reflect [[NewSoundAlbum a change in sound their earlier works had no hint towards]] with a more serious tone, released in 1991 after the bands had broken up [[note]] Technically, Talk Talk were still active, but Webb had left and the band was essentially Mark Hollis at this point [[/note]]. The differences are that ''Laughing Stock'' borrows influence from art rock and jazz, while ''Spiderland'' comes from a PostHardcore background and feels more disjointed and jarring compared to ''Laughing Stock'''s more atmospheric sound.²* DeliberatelyMonochrome: The black and white photo of the band helps the cover capture the album's sound very effectively: cold, contrasting and [[ParanoiaFuel creepy]].²* DownerEnding: The whole album is rather dark, but "Good Morning, Captain" is the darkest track on the album by far. It's more terrifying than it is sad, but it nonetheless ends with Brian [=McMahan=] [[CarefulWithThatAxe screaming]] "[[SuddenlyShouting I MISS YOU]]" while David Pajo plays an epic ThrashMetal riff.²* DrivenToSuicide: "Washer", possibly.²* EpicRocking: Every song on the album is over five minutes long. "Washer" is the longest, approaching nine.²* FaceOnTheCover: The band floating in the Utica Quarry, an abandoned quarry near their native Louisville. Their faces are all you can see of them, adding to the mystique around the group and this album in particular.²* {{Foreshadowing}}: "Breadcrumb Trail" begins with the protagonist searching for a ship at an amusement park. The plot of "Good Morning, Captain" centres around the survivor of a shipwreck.²* FortuneTeller: One of the central characters in "Breadcrumb Trail".²* GainaxEnding: "Good Morning, Captain". Is it real? Is the captain hallucinating? Is the captain dead? No one knows. "Nosferatu Man" also qualifies, as it's never exactly clear what happened to the queen (it's implied that he fed from her and killed her, but this album being [[MindScrew this album]], you can't be too sure).²* GenreBusting: Even for PostRock. Mainly because said genre was an UnbuiltTrope, even during its first wave.²* HeartbeatSoundtrack: A lot of the drumming in the album resembles heartbeats, and even the quickening guitars in "Don, Aman" evoke this effect.²* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: The plot behind "Nosferatu Man".²* ILoveTheDead: "Nosferatu Man." [[MindScrew Maybe.]]²* IJustWantToHaveFriends: "Don, Aman".²* {{Instrumental}}: "For Dinner...".²* JumpScare: The guitar hook after the second verse of "Good Morning, Captain" (which is featured in the page quote) acts as this.²* {{Leitmotif}}: What three of the four main sections of "Breadcrumb Trail" are: the clean 7/4 riff plays when the protagonist and the fortune teller are walking around; the 12/8-15/8 sections resemble a rollercoaster ride; the 4/4-6/4 section with dissonant chords play when the narrative focuses on the ride's operator.²* LoudnessWar: Averted with the 2014 remaster, which maintains a solid dynamic range despite being noticeably louder than the original.²* LyricalColdOpen: "Don, Aman": "Don stepped outside."²* LyricalDissonance: "Breadcrumb Trail", despite being as dark as the rest of this album instrumentally, pretty much revolves around making a new friend at a carnival. Brian's anguished screaming of "creeping up into the sky"? It's about a rollercoaster. The song still fits in with the general dreamlike ambience of the rest of the record, even lyrically, and there's arguably a {{subtext}} that something traumatic has happened to one of the characters (as suggested [[ here]]), but [[NothingIsScarier what exactly that trauma is has been left out]] - the song [[NoEnding simply ends]] before we can find out.²* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: "Breadcrumb Trail", "Nosferatu Man", and "Good Morning, Captain" all have surreal elements to their narratives. However, whether these are really happening or not is left very ambiguous throughout the songs and [[NoEnding abruptly stop before any explanation can be given]].²* NamelessNarrative: Every song except for "Don, Aman", whose eponymous character is also the ''only'' character. ²* NewSoundAlbum: One common observation is just how jarring the difference is between ''Tweez'' and ''Spiderland;'' it was like a new band just appeared out of thin air.²* NoEnding: Lyrically, almost all of the songs fall into either this or GainaxEnding. Or sometimes both. Musically, this is an AvertedTrope, however.²* NoSocialSkills: The protagonist of "Don, Aman".²* NonAppearingTitle: "Washer" is the only exception to this.²* NothingIsScarier: Many of the songs have undercurrents of horror to their lyrics, but the actual horrors themselves are never actually described, so what they are is left to the listener's imagination. This is most obvious on "Good Morning, Captain", but it's present on several of the other songs as well.²* OminousLatinChanting: In "Breadcrumb Trail", the rest of the band actually sings backing vocals in the second distorted verse (beginning with the lyric "spinning round"). They're singing a continuous "aah", and it's mixed in very quietly in the song, so it's incredibly subtle.²* OneWordTitle: The album and the song "Washer".²* PerishingAltRockVoice: So perishing Brian didn't so much sing as mumble spoken word narration most of the time, and fell ill due to the strain of yelling the climax of "Good Morning, Captain".²* {{Pun}}: "Nosferatu Man" has the lyric "My lids are opened when the sun is high".[[labelnote:Explanation]]"Lids" referring to both [[EyeOpen eyelids]] and [[PivotalWakeup coffin lids]].[[/labelnote]]²* ShipTease: Between the narrator and the fortune teller in "Breadcrumb Trail". See the lyrics at the bottom of the page for the clearest example. ²* ShoutOut: "Nosferatu Man" references "Ramblin' Man" by Music/HankWilliams, and displays a reversal of the situation in both songs: "Ramblin' Man" ends with the song's protagonist dead and his wife standing at his grave, while "Nosferatu Man" is about the protagonist reminiscing about his (possibly) dead queen.²* ShroudedInMyth: Due to the band's semi reclusive nature, creepy sound, nearly limited information, and their reputation as ShortLivedBigImpact, ''Spiderland'' sounds all the more mysterious.²* SoleSurvivor: The captain in "Good Morning, Captain" is seemingly the only survivor of a shipwreck, until he hears [[ParanoiaFuel a voice at the door]]. ²* SpokenWordInMusic: Like narration drawn out as the music gets darker with the narration? You're in luck.²* StepUpToTheMicrophone: "Don, Aman" has vocals and guitar by drummer Britt Walford.²* SuddenlyShouting: Brian often goes from mumbling speech to shouting. The best example of this is his screaming in "Good Morning, Captain".²* SwitchingPOV: "Don, Aman" and "Good Morning, Captain" are in third-person narration, while the rest of the album consists of first-person perspectives.²* TakeThat: CD copies of the album often feature a disclaimer on the back cover reading "this recording is meant to be listened to on vinyl," a not-so-subtle jab against the Compact Disc, which had already become the dominant format for music at the time of the album's release.²* TeamShot: One of the creepier examples.²* TermsOfEndangerment: It's implied that the 'queen' in "Nosferatu Man" is an unfortunate trespasser.²* TextlessAlbumCover: [[NightmareFuel Look at the damn thing.]]²* ThrashMetal: The jam section in "Nosferatu Man" has elements of this, and Todd Brashear has cited Music/{{Metallica}} as an influence on the album as a whole.²* TrainSong: "Nosferatu Man" makes frequent references to trains.²* TropeMaker: Of PostRock (along with Music/TalkTalk) and MathRock.²* UncommonTime: Comes with being a MathRock band:²** The time signatures for "Breadcrumb Trail" are, in order of appearance: 7/4 (the main clean riff), 4/4 (as both a transitionary measure and the spoken word interludes), 12/8, 15/8 (both played interchangeably in the distorted segments), 6/4 (after the dissonant chord is played in the interludes), and 3/4 (during the last few interludes, where the 4/4 measures get cut short).²** For "Nosferatu Man", the time signatures are: 6/4 (the opening snare hits, the two choruses, the post-chorus, the end of the third verse and the final verse), 5/4 (the first two verses, the first instrumental bridge and the third verse), 3/4 (during the first bridge, after two measures of 5/4), 4/4 (the end of the first instrumental bridge and the fading outro), 15/4 (second bridge), and 7/4 (the transition between the second bridge and the final verse).²* TheUnsmile: ''Spiderland'''s iconically creepy cover shows the band treading water in a lake in an abandoned quarry near their hometown Louisville with deranged, barely smiling facial expressions.²* VampireBitesSuck: {{Implied}} to be the fate of the queen in "Nosferatu Man".²* VillainProtagonist: The vampiric protagonist of "Nosferatu Man", who seems to be some sort of SerialKiller. ²* WhenImGoneSong: "Washer".²* WholePlotReference: "Good Morning, Captain" is based on ''Literature/TheRimeOfTheAncientMariner.''²----²-->''The sun was setting by the time we left.''\²''We walked across the deserted lot, alone.''\²''We were tired, but we had managed to smile.''\²''At the gate, I said, "goodnight", to the fortune teller,''\²''the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face.''\²\²''But I could tell she was blushing.''²----


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