Slint are a four-piece post-rock/math rock/indie rock band from Louisville, Kentucky who were originally around from 1986 to 1990. Since then, they’ve reformed briefly in 1992, 1994, 2005, 2007, 2013 and 2014. Their discography is very small, consisting of two full-lengths and an EP, only one of which was actually put in their initial tenure together. Despite this, Slint are one of the most important and influential bands in rock. This is chiefly due to their seminal sophomore album, Spiderland. It is often cited as one of, if not the first, post-rock albums ever.
Slint emerged out of another band called Squirrel Bait, who had more in common with Hüsker Dü than anything Slint released. Their first album, Tweez, was recorded in 1987 with Steve Albini, and released in 1989. This album featured the noisy, angular, and droning qualities that they would become best remembered for, though in a less profound capacity to its successor. By no means is it a bad album, though, and bridges the gap between the noisy, post-punk sound of their origins and the barren plain of sonic distress that would follow. This was the album actually released while they were still a band, and just like them, was relatively unknown until after they had broken up.
Spiderland was recorded in 1990 and posthumously released in 1991 by Touch And Go Records. The approach to recording this was simple, with songs being captured nearly-live. This lends itself to the sparse, minimalist sound that has become its trademark. This album features these angular, trebly, winding guitar parts that form the foundations of the songs, while the rest of the band slowly builds up behind them, resulting in distorted, catastrophic climaxes in unusual time signatures. They’re somehow both melodic and dissonant, creating an atmosphere as bleak as the now-iconic photo on the cover. Vocally, they alter between quiet, spoken word passages, often exploring a narrative in great detail, and loud shouts during the climatic bits. The drawn-out, dynamic song structures, and use of rock instrumentation in a very un-traditional rock sound is why this album is often acknowledged as the first “post-rock” album. It also sets the trend of the genre sounding like apocalypse music. The influence can certainly be heard in the genre’s titans, such as Tortoise or Mogwai, and even extends to other sects of rock, with Unwound being a good example. Spiderland continues to be heralded as a milestone in rock, and for good reason. This is absolutely essential, and highly, highly recommended both for historical purposes and for sheer enjoyment.
Members of Slint have also been active in some other notable projects. Many of them also played in another band called King Kong, at different times. Guitarist David Pajo was also a member of Tortoise, and played on their classic albums Millions Now Living Will Never Die and TNT. He has also been a touring member of Interpol, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Stereolab, in addition to being active in a ton of other projects. Drummer Britt Walford was a member of The Breeders, and played on their debut record Pod (under the pseudonym “Shannon Doughton”). Enjoy.