Even for a relatively diverse Boston music scene, Sleep Chamber always represented an anomaly of sorts due to heavy use of electronics, artsy/theatrical bent and s/m elements. Primarily it was/is a vision of one man – John Zewizz (born John McSweeney) who assisted by numerous other musicians throughout years. Musically, they represented a crossover between industrial, experimental, musique concrete, noise and dark ambient, reminiscent of works by Current 93 and Nurse With Wound.
Sleep Chamber was formed in the early 80s and throughout years released an astonishing number of records – more than 10 full-length albums, a couple of EPs and 45s and almost 20 cassette only albums. as well a whole number of videos, all in just two decades.
Sleep Chamber first record was 1982 “Speak In Tongues” EP followed by torrent of other releases and controversy – the band was always criticized for s/m content and explicit artwork, with the cover of “Submit To Desire” recognized as a classic case. Song/album titles were also another indicator of the band’s fascination with sexual/s/m scene – Spellbondage, Satanic Sanction, Kiss The Whip and Babes of Babylon are just some of the examples of this.
1990 “Sleep Or Forever Hold Your Peace” album featured drum machine and guitars and made the band sound more accessible. It also contained a cover of Magazine’s “The Light Pours Out Of Me” and “Synthetic Woman”, a track which appeared in a different form/under a different title on “Speak In Tongues” and utilized samples from Led Zeppelin track “Immigrant Song”.
The band continued releasing albums well into the late 90s, but a couple of problems finally led to band’s self-destruction – in 1995 John Zewizz was accused of murder of Karina Holmer and while charges were never actually brought against him, Sleep Chamber slowly started falling apart. He was also a suspect in the death of his girlfriend Laura Graft, which was later ruled an accidental overdose, but it effectively ended Sleep Chamber 20-year run, with their last releases being 1999 “Kum Cleopatra / Nessus” 7″ and a compilation of unreleased work entitled “SleepSirkle”, which came out in 2004.
Outside of Sleep Chamber, John Zewizz also used numerous aliases (Cult Of The Womb, Green Sex, Mahcanik, Ze Wizz Kidz) and was a member of Hidious In Strength. Also, associated with Sleep Chamber/Zewizz were two all-female bands with equally strong s/m bent – Women Of The SS, who produced countless records for Zewizz-run label Inner-X Musick and somewhat short-lived Women Of Sodom who released one full-length and contributed few tracks to compilations.