Brilliant, brutal CD of distortion-flayed, bedroom-hatched rock/industrial/drone mung recorded direct to cassette in the early '80s... essential solo document from the notorious Stefan Jaworzyn.
Following a brief stint in Whitehouse, in ’86 Jaworzyn formed Skullflower with Matthew Bower and remained the band’s guitarist for four years, playing on Birthdeath (1988), Form Destroyer (1989) and Xaman (1990), among others. In 1990 he established the Shock label, which, like the annual Shock Around The Clock film festival, grew out of Shock Xpress – the seminal, vigorously outspoken horror/exploitation zine edited by Jaworzyn for most of its lifespan. Shock Records was a resounding boot to the arse of the narrow-minded, welcoming artists as disparate as Lol Coxhill, Coil, Drunks With Guns, The Dead C and Ramleh into its fold.
Jaworzyn rejoined Whitehouse in 1990-91, and around this time was also invited to participate in a roundtable discussion about serial killers on Channel 4’s After Dark programme – it ended with him vehemently debating the meaning of the word “integrity” with fellow guest Michael Winner. Despite having supposedly renounced the guitar, in ’91 Jaworzyn returned to the instrument with some venom, forming Ascension (later Descension) with drummer Tony Irving; the band’s turbulent brand of free music famously incited an audience riot when they supported Sonic Youth at Kentish Town Forum in ’96. In the second half of the decade Jaworzyn retired the Shock label and largely withdrew from music, choosing to focus on drinking and cursing; although his The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Companion was published by Titan Books in 2003, and on occasion he emerged to play live (including the Whitehouse ‘farewell’ show in a duo with drummer Chris Corsano).
After seventeen years off the grid, he reappeared in 2013, reactivating Shock to issue two 12” EPs of emphatic new solo material, as well as Eaten Away By Shadows (a compilation of solo bedroom recordings from the early '80s) and the reissues of the aforementioned Skullflower albums. He also released an LP of electronic music experiments from '82 on Blackest Ever Black (Drained of Connotation) and recorded a new album for Graham Lambkin's Kye (The Annihilating Light). Haven't heard much from him since - just a lone CDr on Chocolate Monk with Dylan Nyoukis and S. Glass in 2017.
"It's flashback time at Shock! Everybody loves the '80s now innit, and everybody positively adores old tapes of bedroom noodling... So, always keen to exploit the latest trends, Shock has rummaged through the archives to come up with EATEN AWAY BY SHADOWS, over 79 minutes ('value' for money!) of SJ archive stuff recorded between '82 - '83.
"This was recorded mostly in Bristol, some in London while living in a squat up the road from M Bower. (Mr P Best was crashing on my floor around then. Hilarious times were had by all.) It moves from 'guitar rock' to metal-banging, drone and industrial & ends with some major guitar 'deconstruction' and a positively uplifting organ/feedback orgy.
"The compilation was originally intended as a double LP but the cost was too prohibitive, and I’m not convinced it would have sounded any better. (Probably worse.) The running order, pretty much as the pieces came from the tapes, broke down nicely into four sides… Whatever. Apart from editing at the beginning of track 8, everything remains unmolested. I’ve kept the original titles for ‘authenticity’ even though some seem a tad uninspiring….
"Many cheap instruments were abused in making this music. Guitars and mics were dropped, hit, beaten with pieces of metal and occasionally with an axe, and pretty much all of it (including a good old Dr Rhythm) went through some sort of distortion and a dysfunctional tape echo unit.
"The only particularly notable ‘influence’ I can detect is the obvious one on track 4. The dedicated can ruminate on what I’d been listening to (other than the demonic voices in my head) at any given point. Good luck with that…"