[24 March 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Back in 1982, Stefan Jaworzyn borrowed a synth, hooked it up with a drum machines, recorded this music, then forgot about it for approximately thirty years. Drained of Connotation captures the Whitehouse/Skullflower guitarist in a disturbingly confrontational place. While titles like Lick My Pussy, Will Montgomery, “Eat Shit”, and “I Am the Kind of Goth! Look Upon My Works, Ye Assholes, and Despair!” already paint Jaworzyn to be a cantankerous artist and/or private person, this recently discovered work somehow feels more volatile than all the feedback squalls and pick scrapes gathered over the years. It’s a recording that destroys—not your hearing, but your processing. And no guitars appear to have been involved.
If you were wondering what Stefan Jaworzyn has been up to lately, a blurb from Drained of Connotation‘s press release says that he withdrew from music in the late ‘90s to “focus on drinking and cursing”. But he has now resurrected the Shock label and has placed Connotation in the capable hands of Blackest Ever Black, who have issued just 700 copies of the recording on vinyl. These vinyl editions come with an extra song as a download, “Must We Rot”. If you were wondering why it wasn’t included on the vinyl pressing, just know that “Must We Rot” is almost as long as the rest of the album.
“Sinister Eroticism in Oslo”, “I Am Not Going To Make This Mistake Again”, “Pillars of Excrement”, “Psychoanalytically Speaking, You’re Fucked”—these are the song titles of an album that doesn’t want to merge into your nervous system as much as puncture it. Jaworzyn uses, over and over again, an oscillating effect on the Korg in almost every track. The rate is often rapid and its dynamic position in the mix is never a subtle one. It doesn’t swirl, it drills. That drill keeps descending and descending as “Sinister Eroticism” segues into “The Nightclub Toilet”, which segues into “I Am Not Going To Make This Mistake Again”. These three tracks give a twenty-one minute introductory wash of Connotations‘s draining, droning mood. The tracks get shorter as the album rolls on with numbers like “Druid Crystals” and “Crack City” functioning as just interludes. As the oscillating boils kick into high gear, the distorted electronic drum beats remain the same. In fact, the pulse that Jaworzyn selected for it seems arbitrary since very little other noises are actually following that pulse.
The 26-plus minute “Why Must We Rot” is not operating under some grand design/multi-movement pretense. It is more of the off-the-cuff confrontational use of gadgetry that (more or less) steered the previous 31-plus minutes that is Drained of Connotation. People who are up on their noise rock and the history thereof know that this is not a criticism but just a description of what’s inside. If one were to put a human spin on this, it’s anger. Stefan Jaworzyn, already known for having something of a short fuse, seemed disgusted with something in 1982 and was out to punish listeners for it. There is nothing warm and cuddly in the mix at all, nothing to buffer you from the steel bristles of an indignant avant-gardist.