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"Spiderland" shares "Frigid Stars" same wracked emotional landscape but is if anything even more bereft of hope.Skeletal guitars which are fleshed out by sudden squalls of caustic noise adorn this album. The sound is stark and unembellished. The vocals are mostly spoken in a tired resigned voice,dry as autumn leaves after an Indian summer.When the torpor is lifted by guitars that squeal like a stuck pig or the vocals rise to a pitiful howl its startling.
Never is this more superbly illusrated than on the albums undoubted highlight "Good Morning Captain" A plangent guitar motif gives way to a precise rolling drunbeat.The voice is innervated,bled of all emotion. The guitars occasionally morph into discordant streams of uncluttered noise. Then at the songs epoch they surge and seethe and the vocallist screams, and i mean really screams....a howl of such pain and anguish it travels up your spine like a bullet.I kid you not, it,s one of the greatest moments in the history of recorded music.
Needless to say it,s worth owning this album for that track alone and it,s one tiny problem is that nothing else comes near to matching it. In terms of consistency "Frigid Stars" is actually the superior work but at these elevated levels of artistry it,s fairly irrelevant."Spiderland"is a landmark release and listening to it again for the first time in a long time for the purposes of this review has been a draining experience.It remains with you long after the last note has faded and that is the mark of all truly great music.
First it is timeless and the band still re-convenes infrequently to play it live, indeed the studio album has a "recorded live" feel to it.
Secondly, to me listening to the overall feel and structure it bears a striking resemblance to King Crimson's "Larks Tongues in Aspic" in the length and pattern of the tracks and inasmuch that it works better when listened to as a whole rather than as individual songs.
Beginning with the quietly ominous "Breadcrumb Trail" and winding through inexorably to the denouement of "Good Morning Captain" I like to think of it as a musical "Blair Witch Project" where branches snap and twigs crackle for no obvious reason and we don't get to see what it is we've been terrified of until the very last scenes.
Repeated listening is rewarding as one becomes familiar with every nuance and note, the silences and the sudden changes in mood and volume.
Considering the relative youth of the band members at the time of recording it is remarkable for its longevity, maturity and precociousness. Indeed it
may be that twenty years on the band themselves have only recently grown into understanding the greatness of what they created.
I won't try to take it apart track-by-track, as this is a concept album (the good kind). All you need to know is that it is crushingly intense and hypnotic.
Oh, and you _really_ have to play it loud, or it won't have the same impact.
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Most recent customer reviews
These guys are talented nonetheless but the album is very juvenile and has no feel and depth.Read more
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