STEFAN JAWORZYN (Skullflower, Ascension, etc.)

Guitarist Stefan Jaworzyn was already playing in Pure when it evolved into Skullflower, and he played on all of Skullflower's material up through XAMAN. He quit over a disagreement with Matthew Bower over the mixing of the album, and went on to join the devolved freejazz outfit Ascension. Along the way he has occasionally collaborated with others and released his own material. He also runs (ran?) Shock Records, on which the legendary (and legendarily out-of-print) XAMAN was released in both vinyl and cd formats.

Additional notes: For some inexplicable reason, Stefan Jaworzyn (guitarist up through XAMAN and purveyor of Shock Records) shows up in the thank-you section of the book KILLING FOR CULTURE [Creation Press]. (He's also quoted a couple of times in the text.) Perusing the bibliography provides an interesting explanation: He apparently published a journal/zine called SHOCK XPRESS at one time, and has published SHOCK XPRESS 1: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO EXPLOITATION CINEMA [Titan Books, 1991].

Sacha Colgate has this to add on the subject: "As your information suggests, Stefan did indeed edit a film & video mag. called SHOCK XPRESS (he edited the second ever issue onwards -- the so-called "editor" couldn't be bothered), and has now overseen three SHOCK XPRESS books (the third is simply entitled SHOCK). The magazine ran from 1985 to 1990. He has also, with genre journalist/editor Alan Jones, pu t on three all-night film events in London, under the "Shock Around The Clock" banner at the sadly-deceased Scala Cinema in King's Cross. The second one featured the UK premiere of Jorg Buttgereit's NEKROMANTIK (at 7.20 am!), and spe cialised in presenting loads of uncut celluloid filth. With regard to his acknowledgement in the Kerekes/Slater KILLING FOR CULTURE book, he doubtlessly supplied material (stills/written matter/artwork) for them to use in the book, and he has also contributed to David Kerekes' HEADPRESS magazine (Issue 3, I think). Additionally, he supplied material to Jack Stevenson for his book on John Waters and George & Mike Kuchar, entitled DESPERATE VISIONS. Stefan has also contrib uted to SCAPEGOAT, a one-off anti-censorship magazine edited by David McGillivray, and has written over the years for MONTHLY FILM BULLETIN, EYEBALL, FORCED EXPOSURE, RESONANCE, MFTEQ, EST, and GRIM HUMOR."

[Related news regarding Steve Thrower, also courtesy of Sacha Colgate]: Steve Thrower also edits a film magazine called EYEBALL, which has b een going since 1990. He has also written for SHOCK XPRESS, FLESH AND BLOOD, DELIRIUM, and VIDEOOZE. He has completed a book on the acclaimed and controversial film director Lucio Fulci, which to date is awaiting publicati on. Since his involvement with Skullflower and Satin Chickens, and his departure from Coil (to devote his energies to EYEBALL, among other things), Steve has been involved in other musical ventures. One of them is a four-piece called Put Put, a n "improv-drone" outfit with synth/trumpet/sax racket pinned down by hard rhythms. Their only recorded appearance is on the THREE FINGERS AND A THUMB compilation CD (Blast First, 1995). The line-up is as follows: S. Thrower (sax/effe cts), Andy Diagram (trumpet/effects), Howard Jacques (bass/sampler/synth), Andrew Jacques (drums/sampler). He has also been involved with a band called Identical, which again uses sax & trumpet in a more keyboard/sample laden area w/vocals. Only known recorded appearance is on THE RED ROSE CONCERTS 1995 cassette (MTB 020, 1995). Line-up is: S. Thrower (sax/effects), Gavin Mitchell (Keyboards/Trumpet), Orlando (Keyboards/Voice), Andy (Live Mixing). Finally, pre-Coil, Steve released a solo LP under the name of Possession. The material is meant to be in the area of electronics/Krautrock type stuff, and is now very rare.

STEFAN solo / collaborations

LPs / CDs: none
SINGLES: "Guitars 1983" (1995) [Fusetron] [Stefan Jaworzyn 7", limited to 250.]
"Lick My Pussy, Will Montgomery" (1996) [Fourth Dimension] [Stefan Jaworzyn 10", limited to 400.]
IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD (1996)[Incus] (Stefan Jaworzyn/Alan Wilkinson)


Formed c. April 1992 by Tony Irving (drums, guitar, harmonics guitar) and Russell Hedges (bass), Ascension initially pursued a direction of improvised drumming and more "regular" bass/guitar racket. After rehearsals and completing the ASCENSION and PROCEDURE 3505 cassettes, they started playing live, initially supporting the likes of (ugh!) Huggy Bear. I first saw them at their third gig with about ten other bands at the Bull & Gate in London, around September 1992 -- they cleared out a room of 200-plus people in about ten seconds flat. I though they were marvelous. Before this, they performed a 30-second set at London's Rough Trade shop. At this point, Tony forwarded tapes of Ascension and Derv (Tony's solo project) to Stefan Jaworzyn, in order to get some interest for a record release. Their next performance was at Hampstead White Horse on 13 February 1993, where Tony informed me that both Ascension and Derv were to appear on what became WHITE TRASH MOTHERFUCKERS. However, this turned out to be Russell's last appearance, as a less-than-satisfactory gig as well as an increasing disinterest in improvisation in general led him to announce his departure the same time that Stefan joined for initial rehearsals. Thus, Ascension settled into the line-up that remains to this day.

This new line-up performed at Camden Monarch on March 30 1993, and this was taped, appearing soon after as the THREE TITLES CD (later on the LIVE/DEAD LP). On 10 June 93, they recorded the "Two Titles" single, and soon after this recorded ONE TITLE. Already, plans were afoot to record enough material for an album release ("7," "8," and "9" were recorded on the same day as "Two Titles"). The rest of the album fell into place with recordings of gigs in 1994. Their Demolition Club set on 26 April 94 garnered one piece, and the other piece, recorded at Dublin Castle on 14 June 94, turned out to be a two-guitar piece due to a drumkit loan promised to Tony being withdrawn on the day.

Their next Dublin Castle gig on 31 July 94 was a memorable one, due to them performing with The Blue Humans (rightly legendary improv unit). The Blue Humans (Rudolph Grey w/ both Tom Surgal and Charles Gayle on drums) were a thorough anitclimax at their Disobey gig on 28 July 94, but here they literally torched alive that memory in a perfect-as-dammit performance. Ascension, who played before them, rose to the occassion and played one of their greatest sets. A great evening, and both bands got along well personally too.

With FIVE TITLES now out, and their split 7" single with BLAF released as well, Ascension began to recevie some proper attention in various fanzines, consolidating their reputation as a singularly vital improv unit. It was around this time that Stefan made contact with noted bassist/composer Simon Fell (who runs the Bruce's Fingers label), and the idea of Descension was formed, expanding the Irving/Jaworzyn duo to a quartet (w/ S FellCharles Wharf on saxes and bass clarinet). Having rehearsed and received an Arts Council grand to fund a tour of the UK, Descension played five dates in Southampton, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield and London. The London gig on 10 March 95 was a solid blast of searing energy improv. (although I remember Tony being a little unhappy about not being able to hear the amps clearly enough).

June 95 saw Ascension perform as part of the 'Shock Festival' in Leytonstone, w/Lol Coxhill and Hession/Wilkinson/Fell, and one week later performing at Brixton's Bar Sate (a squat which put on regular events). This gig was videotaped, although Ascension have never recevied a copy of it. July brought them together with Merzbow at the Disobey Club on 13 July 95. They played a storming set, and the near-hellish conditions inside perfectly suited Merzbow's vicious assault.

With their performance at the Disobey Club being much enjoyed by the audience, it seemed they were finally getting the audience and attention they deserved. All boded well, and 1996 turned out to be their most productive year in terms of profile.

They started off the year by participating in the series of live broadcasts for San Francisco's KFJC Radio. Performing two staggering sets, this performance was taped by Ian Mackay at JTI Studios, and would be released later on in 1996 as the BROADCAST 2-CD set. With the FUSETRON LP out as well, it was perfect timing that in April 1996, both Ascension and Descension members performed two dates with, respectively, Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, and Sonic Youth. The first date, at London's Jazz Cafe, comprised of the following musicians: Tony Irving, Stefan Jaworzyn, Simon Fell, Lee Ranaldo, Thurston Moore, Alan Wilkinson (saxes), Lol Coxhill (soprano sax), Pat Thomas (piano). This collective performed an hour-long improvisation where members dropped in and out of the proceedings at various points, and some highly-charged performances were wrung out (I remember an Irving/Thomas duet as being a particular highlight).

The next performance three days later has gathered some amount of notoriety. Descension were supporting Sonic Youth at London's Forum, then touting their wares for the WASHING MACHINE album. A moronic proportion of the audience decided that being "forced" to listen to a non-"alternative" rock outfit was too much to bear, yelling out the usual abuse and throwing pint glasses and bottles stagewards. Descension coped well under the circumstances, if a little strained, until a projectile hit Tony Irving directly. Diving into the audience to altercate with the offender, he unfortunately jumped upon a girl who hadn't been responsible, who followed him back on-stage to "respond." She was dragged off by a bouncer, and the band quickly re-composed themselves. With a thoroughly polarised, hostile and near-violent atmosphere in the audience, Descension played an absolute storming 20 minutes, only curtailed by a pint of lager falling directly onto Stefan's pedals (the real danger of electrocution stopping him performing). The amazing response at the conclusion of their set had to be witnessed to be appreciated -- 50% of the audience booing and yelling abuse, 50% cheering wildly for Descension. Sonic Youth's wretchedly boring performance afterwards only served to make it further Descension's night.

Since then, it's been relatively quiet for Ascension, although they recently performed again in August, with Dial (featuringJacqui Ham (ex-UT) and Rob (ex-God)), and New Zealand's White Winged Moth (Dean Roberts playing a solo set with two guitars for a "drone" piece -- some people enjoyed it, but I have to be honest and say it didn't do much for me). Ascension's performance was warmly received, and the following months should bring more live dates, and hopefully see the long-awaited follow-up to BROADCAST.

CASSETTES: ASCENSION (1992) [Obscured]
PROCEDURE 3505 (1992) [Obscured]
THREE TITLES (1993) [no label]
LPs / CDs: THREE TITLES (1992) [Shock] (only three copies made)
LIVE/DEAD (1993) [Dirter Promotions] (originally issued as THREE TITLES)
FIVE TITLES (1994) [Shock]
LP (1995) [Shock/Fusetron]
BROADCAST (1996) [Shock] (2 CD set, limited to 500)
SINGLES: "Two Titles" (1993) [Shock] [Issued in a numbered edition of 600]
"One Title" (1994) [Shock/Fourth Dimension] [also called "6"]
"12 / The Tool Shed In Winter" (1994) split w/Broken Lightbulb Anal Fetish [Crank Automotive]
v/a -- KISSER BOY KISSER GIRL (1992) [Soul Static Sound #1] ["No Thing"]

LIVE DATES: All listed dates are in London. This is an incomplete listing, and hopefully someone out there can fill in the missing dates (Paul Wild, perhaps?):


LPs / CDs: LIVE, MARCH 1995 (1995) [Shock] (Ascension plus Simon H. Fell and Charles Wharf)
SINGLES: "My Middle Name Is Funk" (199?) [Father Yod/Amanita]

LIVE DATES: Same format as above.


LPs / CDs: none
COMPILATIONS: MELT (1992) [Work in Progress] ["Reward of Cruelty"]


A Tony Irving solo project.

CASSETTES: DERV (1988) [Obscured]
DISLOCATION (1992) [Obscured]
LPs / CDs: none
COMPILATIONS: v/a -- KISSER BOY KISSER GIRL (1992) [Soul Static Sound #1]
v/a -- NEON SIGNS IN A DRALON SKY (1994) [Fisheye School]


Stefan Jaworzyn appeared on a Satin Chickens 2 x 7" some years back on SFTRI under Mr Shock guise. All parties involved in this project have disowned it.



'Atomic Jam', Jazz Cafe, Camden, London (14/04/96) - w/L Coxhill, T Moore, L Ranaldo, P Thomas, A Wilkinson.



White Horse, Hampstead, London (??/05/93) - One-off performance. Line up: S Jaworzyn (guitar), Wayne Rogers (guitar), Kate Biggar (guitar, vocals).


Other Music, New York, NY (06/05/96)


The Cooler, New York, NY (10/05/96)



Tony Irving's solo project -- has performed 3-4 times performing solo guitar, mainly @ Sausage Machine, London. Appeared once on a bill with a line-up feat. Truman's Water, and once did an infamous 'duet' with Thurston Moore (I think this was in May 1995).

Credits for Ascension history and info:

Sascha Colgate credits: Tony Irving - For direct information regarding Ascension live and in the studio. Also thanks for inviting me to KFJC live transmission - definitely one to remember (thanks, mate). Thanks to Stefan Jaworyzn for similar information.

HOE (1994) - Interview w/ Tony Irving.
de/create #4 - Interview w/ Stefan Jaworzyn.
CRANK #5 (1995) - Interview w/ Stefan Jaworzyn.
THE WIRE #156 (Feb 97) - Article on Ascension/Interview with Stefan Jaworzyn: 'The Scum Rises', written by Ben Watson.