Album Review: Big Spider’s Back – Memory Man




I hate chillwave. Not the music that’s been christened “chillwave” necessarily, but the fact that any kind of music that incorporates any sort of echoing, down-tempo electronic is immediately considered “chillwave.” It pigeonholes artists into this bigger “scene,” and it really limits where they can go.

However, all aversions to mislabeling aside, Brooklyn (via Seattle) native Big Spider’s Back drops a compelling electronic debut, Memory Man. His minimalist approach paves the way for a smooth aesthetic that drives the album into territories that occasionally transcend the chillwave label. This album thrives on its vocal sampling that often recalls Panda Bear’s ethereal Young Prayer. The chorus of “Dead Channel” is driven by a repetitive vocal chant that gives the track a greater depth than that of your everyday chillwave music. Even the instrumentals themselves show greater depth than average chillwave. “Black Chow” is eternally catchy and impeccably arranged.

Add Big Spider’s Back’s keen sampling ability to a knack for unusual (yet palatable) synth arrangements, and you’ve got something to write home about. Unfortunately, this combination is only seen in small glimpses throughout the album, and as such, the LP on the whole is nothing more than ordinary. However, the brief glimpses are just bright enough to instill a hope for the future of chillwave and its very limited boundaries.

Despite that fact, in a genre where even the heaviest of heavyweights (like Toro y Moi or Washed Out, for example) can only achieve moderate success, a small act like Big Spider’s Back probably isn’t going to get very far. Best case scenario is that Big Spider’s Back is going to be stuck in an eternal, small chillwave limbo, always playing second best to the bigger names, who themselves are struggling to succeed.