Frayle is a relatively young band from Cleveland, Ohio and is the musical output of the duo Sean Bilovecky and Gwyn Strang. They play a very mesmerising doom, which touches upon stoner rock and also has some shoegaze influences, making their EP The White Witch a highly recommended listen, if only for the amazing cover of Portishead’s ‘Wandering Star‘. 

Dutch independent label Lay Bare Recordings recently announced they’ll be releasing the vinyl version of The White Witch, which is all the more reason to ask Sean and Gwyn about the 3 records that have influenced them the most.

Portishead – Dummy

(Gwyn)

In the mid 90’s, I was living in Toronto and living a life of big hair, black lipstick and even blacker music.

Portishead’s Dummy album was a bit of a departure from my usual heavier musical tastes, but Beth Gibbons vocal fragility and vulnerability inspired me in so many ways. Portishead’s lyrics opened up my eyes to deeper, more meaningful and spiritual prose. It was very difficult for me to put myself out there emotionally, and it was as if this album gave me permission to write it all down and to actually experience it. This is an album of heart break, introspection and revelation. It touches me on a level that I didn’t want to allow myself to experience. 

Ever since then, this album has become a trigger and it just opens my heart, and all the sadness and desperation leaks out.

Sleep – Dopesmoker

(Sean)

It’s kind of ironic that I heard this record for the first time in its entirety just six months ago. My previous band played several shows (in the early 2000’s) with High On Fire, but aside from hearing ‘Dragonaut’ in the movie Gummo, I knew very little of Matt Pike or Sleep. Fast forward to about 6 months ago when I see a clip on YouTube about this “mythical” Dopesmoker record.

Please keep in mind that I am fully aware of how ridiculous it sounds that I only heard Dopesmoker 6 months ago.

Anyway…

I remember the producer saying in the clip that they were going for the “heaviest record ever made”. This peaked my interest as I am always curious to hear what other people define as “heavy”. To me, some of the quietest songs can also be the “heaviest”. 

Immediately upon listening to Dopesmoker I understood what Sleep and their producer were going for. The more I listened, the more I got it. The riffs. The mid-heavy tones. The droning drum beat. The combination is so hypnotically heavy.

Dopesmoker expanded my perception of what a heavy record can be. It showed me that turning your back on accepted song structures and time constraints can sometimes be a good thing. You can’t be heavy if you are always following someone else’s rules.

But most importantly it reinforced the idea that you have to let the riff (or the melody) lead the way. Obey the riff!

Chelsea Wolfe – Abyss

(Gwyn & Sean)

The first show that we ever saw together was Chelsea Wolfe when she was supporting her Abyss album. She played a small venue in Cleveland OH. Her voice and persona filled the room. She commanded the stage in such a way that she would bring her voice to a whisper and you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was mesmerized by her raw talent and presence. 

Abyss is an extension of what we saw that night. Delicate songs like ‘Maw’ mixed with the heaviness of songs like ‘Black Moon’. She takes her pain and transforms it into something that is both gritty and darkly beautiful. Winding morosity through full stories ending in salvation.

The production on the record is admirable as well. The intro to ‘Carrion Flowers’ is intense. The guitars on ‘Black Moon’ have a very unique deep throated texture that we both love.

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