Pavement is the bookish Nirvana, equally the child of postpunk and indie rock, only far more erudite and restrained,indebted to soundscape aesthetes like Swell Maps, Eno, and the Krautrock contingent, not the sloppier Melvins or Beat Happening. In 1989, buddies "S.M." (Steve Malkmus) and "Spiral Stairs" (Scott Kannberg) began recording in a Stockton, California, studio, with its owner, '60s refugee Gary Young on drums. The magical results were slowly parceled out, husbanding fanzine acclaim, on three exquisitely collaged (visually and sonically) vinyl EPS, the first self-released and the other two, including the ten-inch Perfect Sound Forever, on Chicago's second generation "micro label" Drag City. Slanted and Enchanted was reviewed in Spin as an advance cassette months before it came out; the hunger was that intense. And Pavement delivered, with fully formed compositions that gave up static for silk. What's unexpected about this album is its grandeur, how these largely slow tunes, intoxicated on unexplained conjunctions ("Lies and betrayals/ Fruit-covered nails/Electricity and lust"), conjure an undiscovered country from scraps of reference, pun, and metaphor. On "In the Mouth a Desert," Malkmus asks "Can you treat it like an oil well, when it's underground, out of sight?". Of course you can, and Slanted and Enchanted is the best artistic illustration of the principle.