The image on the front cover of Slint’s seminal album Spiderland, taken by Will Oldham, the musician behind the various monikers Palace Music, Palace Brothers and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, is an image that entered my life at sixteen. Browsing through CD’s in a record store, the image of four heads bobbing in a quarry gave me a strange mix of contradictory feelings, feelings of emptiness and warmth. The photograph seemed so familiar, like I had experienced that exact moment myself. It felt like I was standing in an alternate universe looking at a moment that I had been part of in some strange way. I’ve tried several times to recreate this image in the many creeks and rivers of my hometown without any success. I never managed to create the same type of eerie feeling. I guess some moments just aren’t easily reproduced, or maybe some moments aren’t meant to be reproduced.
Looking at the four persons half submerged in the water with their faces half-smiling, it felt like they were staring right through me, like there was some dark Lovecraftian force lurking in front of them and that it was hanging over me. Could their gaze be an omen? An omen that my salad days were drawing to a close? That the future was going to be lined with darkness and destitution? I had no idea what to make of it, but my mind was racing just looking at that cover. It felt like it took some time before my mind managed climb out of the existential void this image hurled me into and my focus started to shift. Looking at that image again, their gaze wasn’t longer an unsettling gaze, it offered consolation. Their smirking faces provided a sort of stoic consolation, a promise that no matter what lies ahead, the bottom line would be that things would nonetheless turn out to be OK.