WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN: In the past few months, Mission Sound has hosted current buzz-magnets Matt and Kim, Arctic Monkeys and Animal Collective, as well as perennial punk-rock veterans Bad Religion. This month, Oliver Straus’ Williamsburg studio welcomes Brooklyn shoegazers Dead Leaf Echo and UK-born producer John Fryer. We stopped by to talk shop and got an earful.
Before helping Industrial artists like Nine Inch Nails create raw and powerful new sounds in the 90s, Fryer established himself as a capable, smart-mouthed young engineer at London’s Blackwing Studios. It was there that he would team up with seminal artists Cocteau Twins and Depeche Mode to invent unique and influential new textures for 4AD and Mute Records as early as 1981.
Fryer is a natural choice for Dead Leaf Echo, who spend their days imagining up wide expanses of ethereal guitars anchored by tight, driving rhythms. These stark, yet deeply textured soundscapes create a foundation for songs that Textura describes as “four-minute cathedrals of dreampop splendour”. The band’s sound, like its visual aesthetic, plays on contrasts between black and white, and sits like an oversaturated portrait in a bare room, a striking monochrome with brief flashes of color.
If there’s anyone who knows about developing these kinds of expansive textures, it’s Fryer, who is unafraid of using technology to make a sonic statement. “It’s all about warping sounds,” he says, “Bastardizing them.”
Fryer’s early home-base, Blackwing, was built out of a deconsecrated church that lost much of its original vaulted ceilings to new construction. This environment, coupled with an experimental nature, led Fryer and his contemporaries to rely heavily on early AMS reverbs, delays and Eventide Harmonizers to add lush, hyper-real colors to the sonic palette…