"All attentions (from this new distant audience) were directed towards a past that was pretty fully understood to be the past (by those close to the reality of the creation of this music)." - Will Oldham, 2014

My first glimpses of the four partially submerged, grinning faces that adorn the sleeve of Slint's Spiderland didn't come with much context. It was in fact far from the usual routes with which many discover the Louisville, KY quartet's math rock masterwork, now seeing a long-deserved deluxe reissue this week. I hadn't been led there by the word of Stuart Braithwaite. Nor had I read the glowing review of the record some 14 years earlier given by producer supremo Steve Albini - the man behind the boards of both the band's 1987-recorded debut, Tweez, and a subsequent untitled 12" - in the long defunct Melody Maker.

Hell, my first encounter with it didn't even come in a record shop, as so many stories surrounding people's primary discoveries of Spiderland seem to. Rather, the first time I laid eyes on those four knowing faces back in 2005 came via the delightfully antiquated site of their record label, Touch & Go: a page that to this day just about keeps its head above the web 2.0 waters.

The path that led me there was, admittedly, a fairly well trodden one. It begins, as so many stories like this do, with Kurt Cobain. As is the case with many a teenager, I clung to his discography like a suckling infant while also studying his influences to make sense of it all: Sonic Youth, The Vaselines, Wipers, Scratch Acid, Beat Happening.

It was one particular, slightly more obscure, release (or at least as obscure as a Nirvana record can be) that led me to Chicago's Touch & Go, who've remained on the cusp of cutting edge guitar music for as long as I can remember: a 1992 split single with label mainstays and all-round frightening people, The Jesus Lizard.

But I digress. There was always something to the sleeve of Spiderland: an elusive, inexpressible quality that drew you in. It was almost as if to tell you there was something far greater lurking behind those smiles: four bobbing heads in a quarry full of water, shot in stark black and white. They belonged to (from l-r): Todd Brashear, Brian McMahan, Britt Walford and David Pajo.

Suffice to say, the music behind the image was a fucking revelation to my 15-year-old self. To echo virtually everyone else that's ever spoken of Spiderland, it sounded like absolutely nothing I'd heard before, like the DNA of my favourite bands stretched out and put back together in monstrous, unrecognisable forms.

Slint may be heralded as early purveyors of math and post rock, but truly they don't really fit that bill. Listening in retrospect, while you can certainly hear their imprint upon both geographical and ideological peers - Rodan, June of 44, Shipping News, Will Oldham's many projects from Palace Music through to Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - they sound like nothing else, before or since. They sound like aliens.

And what's the most basic human instinct when you don't understand something, short of running away in fear (as you might be tempted to on hearing the chilling lead lines of 'Nosferatu Man')? Why, to research it, of course.

In the case of Slint, that's a pretty tough ask. To say that information on the band was scarce ten years ago, prior to their 2005 reformation, is an understatement. When the four-piece broke up shortly after recording Spiderland in 1990, they left behind little other than their 'official' output, a scattering of rumours (chief among them that guitar player and co-vocalist Brian McMahan was temporarily hospitalised following the record's creation) and a group of fans and peers so touched by the album that their praise has carried it to where it stands as a cult classic now.

The truth is, a band like Slint could not exist today. Or, at the very least a band with the same level of mystique by sheer lack of information couldn't. Sure, you could argue that an artist like FKA Twigs or Jai Paul might cultivate a similar intrigue, but it all feels much less dangerous, much less elusive and as though, with the right Google search, the answers might present themselves. With Slint, you never had that luxury. (That is save for Scott Tenant's brilliantly illuminating 33 1/3 tome on the album.)

So, where does that leave us in 2014 with a deluxe reissue of the record? Mastered by Shellac member Bob Weston - who's also worked a similar feat with Silkworm's Libertine - it offers extensive demos, live recordings, outtakes, a feature-length documentary around its inception and an accompanying booklet that documents what could be virtually every piece of ephemera associated with the band's short lifespan. But, does being presented with this glut of new information and media debase the band's mythic reputation? Truthfully, no - in fact, it almost enhances it.

Whether sonic or otherwise, all of the paraphernalia collected in the boxset finally allows Slint to be truly contextualised in a time and place, as opposed to those disembodied, immortal heads staring back at you from Spiderland's sleeve.

In everything from the impressively tight, humour-laden demos that crop up on the supplemental sides of vinyl that accompany the album to the impeccably pieced together documentary, what most comes to light is the dark wit and frightening intelligence with which Slint operated.

On first hearing the mournful 'Washer' or the deeply unsettling 'Good Morning, Captain', you'd never imagine that one of their primary creators (drummer and co-vocalist, Britt Walford) would have gone on to bake erotic cakes at a New York pastry shop called, wait for it, Masturbaker.

Nor that he once gave Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow a Big Gulp full of his faeces - Yow had committed the heinous crime of dropping a cigarette in his drink. Or that Yow's swirling Jesus Lizard masterpiece 'Mouth Breather' was written about Walford. As Yow explains, Steve Albini had once said to him of Walford: "Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy. I like him just fine but he's a mouth breather." It would go on to become the track's hilarious chorus line.

Looking back on Spiderland with years of hindsight, it can be an incredibly humanising experience seeing this side of the band too. Hearing the tracks from the album in demo form only goes to further the mortal, flawed genius in these four young men. Brian breaking out into fits of coughing on a 4-track vocal demo of 'Nosferatu Man', the sharp but flawed versions of outtake 'Pam', the fractured yet intriguing live take on the unreleased 'Cortez the Killer' (which bears more than a passing resemblance to Will Oldham's work under the various Palace monikers, which every member of Slint would be involved with) - they all serve to make Spiderland's moments of frailty and defencelessness all the more disarming. And its distortion-laced implosions all the more terrifying.

It's a testament to the game-changing nature of Spiderland and the frankly brilliant minds behind it that it holds up this well. After all, for a record whose mystique - secondary to the actual music, of course - was such a pivotal element of its appeal, to come out very much alive after being picked apart and examined so intensely is a telling sign of its importance. Would my 15-year-old self have appreciated them in quite the same way with all this new information? Maybe. Maybe not. But he's incredibly glad to have finally found some answers at the end of the breadcrumb trail.