s" can be considered from the Greek euphony
, meaning "beautiful sound
." (Disagree with my armchair etymology? To my critics I respond only: You Phony!
) I don't know how appropriately that translation is retained with its early-'90s phonetic restyling, but there was certainly something beautiful about what they were doing with sounds.
______/\ A New Electric Dimension! /\ /\
/ ______/ \ \/ /
/ / /\___ __ ______ /\ __\ /
/ /___ /\ /\ \___ \ /\ / // __ // \ / // \
/ ____// / / /____/ // /_/ // / / // /\ \ / // /\ \
/ / / / / // ____// __ // / / // / / // // / \ \
/ /____/ /__/ // / / / / // /_/ // / / // // / \ \
/_______\_____// / / / /_//_____// / /_//_// / \ \
\/ \/ \/ \/ \/
About a year ago I inadvertently offended a foxy lady DJ
at an event she'd been kind enough to invite me to when I shared with her my roommate's view on drum 'n bass: to wit, that it sounds like an archaic, outmoded conception of what someone in '89 thought the music of the future
would sound like... outmoded not only because we are not that future, but because - as with the pairing of Wendy Carlos' classical-Moog soundtrack
to A Clockwork Orange - that future will never come to pass.
But who listens to d'n'b? For me, the anarchic outsider techno stylings of EuphoniX will forever be that falsely prophetic clairaudience, sounds clambering back up the ages widdershins to my pubescent crossroads of potentiality from an anticipated millennial shift that was a bit more William Gibson and a bit less Irvine Welsh.
The details are not well known. Despite an historical passing acquaintance with some of its onetime members, my primary research sources are comments crammed into sample name fields - a medium marginally less useful in its comprehensibility than liner note in-jokes and yearbook picture captions. The story begins and finishes (well, goes on still) with one Jovian Francey, at various times aka Luminance, dust, Sentience, Yohimbe and Math Genius. By age 15, in 1991, he had begun releasing to the general online public 4-channel ProTracker .MODules - original compositions and remixes - created on his Amiga, a vital multimedia stepping-stone platform carrying through the irrepressibly devious and creative traditions of the earlier C64 scene on to the nascent PC demoscene.
Somewhere along the line, presumably thanks to contact information contained among the song releases, he found himself part of a close community of local and international new music enthusiasts whose activities' hub seemed to be the Wizard On-Line BBS run by Roger and Sarah Earl - coincidentally itself well-connected with the good folks at Wimsy, area code 604's first real taste of non-academic InterNet access. Over the course of the fateful year 1992 Jovian began associating the word "EuphoniX" with his releases - and whether intended as description, aesthetic aspiration, to denote affiliation or to suggest "release" by some nebulous sole-proprietor non-physical record company, by the end of 1992 two more Amiga-tracking locals were also to be found namechecking each other and namedropping EuphoniX membership1 in their releases: Op of Tekna Darren Grant, aka /3eaver and later fingers, and Tomasz Szymanski, aka Marauder and now going just under his first name.
If Jovian's early tunes could be considered a baseline midpoint of musicality, Darren's style pulled strongly towards more consummately crafted conventional, melody/harmony interplay; the partnership with Tomasz (which long outlasted the viability of the "EuphoniX" entity) instead plumbed the then-underexplored possibilities of gradual rhythmic complexity in loop-based composition. By 1993, The Year It All Came Together, this tripartite continuum had been all shot to shit and back by the introduction of the D'Artagnan to these musical Musketeers, Jason Johannson aka JaZz, whose geeky chaotic Atari Teenage Riotous technique can't be adequately summed up in words - suffice it to say that when I stormed down into the basement computer room in an occasional adolescent foul mood it was invariably his songs I would blast up through the floorboards cranked up to 11, not only because they - like my hormone-fogged life - seemed unpredictable and making no sense, but because here at last was something that was guaranteed to irritate my parents no matter how open-minded a face they put on. Jason must have had a sound in mind and worked towards it, because what he produced can't be easily considered derivative of anything that's come before beyond a wild, intense Fauvist techno sensibility.
Influencing and directly collaborating with each other, these years were tremendously fruitful for the musicians, seeming in a sense to tap into a legacy as inheritors of the Nettwerk-nurtured Vancouver electronic music zeitgeist that produced Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Delerium, Download, Perfume Tree and Tinmen (the latter with whom they formed close ties - remixes were and to this day continue to be profligate among the ensembles' onetime crews). But something about the sample-heavy (but vocal-free) synthesis ("dense, fast and a little naive") of inspiration they drew from industrial, new wave, techno and burgeoning rave2 styles engendered a community unto their own of early and longtime adherents, fans, imitators and disciples, including locals:
- Adrienne Prat (aka Voi the Analogue Cat): onetime SysOp of Transient Lunacy and formerly musico-romantically entangled with Jovian, she now produces and releases electronic Mineral Music under the abbreviated moniker Adri (at http://www.mineralmusic.com/);
- David Riley: originator of EuphoniX's tradition of smoov ascii art logos - though his enthusiastic Amiga style isn't represented here, all ascii in this node from the keyboard of Jovian himself - and also seemingly the sole solitary uploader - as email@example.com - of every existent remaining EuphoniX .MOD on neglected and forgotten ftp sites worldwide);
- Shawn Thomas (aka Lofwyr): a man whose own compositions at times (Elvis is Dead, 5th Dimension) suggested that he'd been indeed drinking deep of the same draught ... and at other times (Brain Blues) suggested that he'd fatally spiked his punch with goofball juice;
- and the often-greeted David Toews (of Trideja, what EuphoniX might well have been had they been based on Atari hardware rather than Amiga).
Retroactively boasting (somewhat bogus-ly) of having been "one of the first exclusively computer-based (in terms of sound generation and distribution) music groups", the ensemble not only enjoyed an international fan base among stubborn Amiga-clingers (what they like, they like A LOT) courtesy of the inclusion of their music on an AmiNet
CD distribution, but like any demo or ansi art group they also enjoyed a small network of BBS distribution sites, at its greatest extent including:
Corrosion BBS : (604) 324-9168 (14.4)
Depeche Node BBS : (604) 874-2986 (14.4)
Cyber Dome BBS : (604) 534-7387 (14.4)
Tekna BBS : (604) 857-8871 (2400MNP5)
Transient Lunacy : (604) 261-2797 (2400)
Wizard On-Line 2400 : (604) 322-3232
2400 : (604) 322-3266
v.32bis: (604) 322-3972
(and despite my greatest ankle-biting efforts conspicuously not The Screaming Tomato
. A pretty unnecessary disclaimer follows: don't bother calling the above phone numbers since despite the bizarre longevity of 604's dialup BBS community all of these nonetheless are long since defunct and their numbers since recycled and reassigned - please keeping in mind this all was by now a decade
The bounty of 1993 lay rotting in the fields as EuphoniX made a very uneasy transition in the mid-'90s from stride-finding tracking group - contemporary to the perihelia of the likes of u4ia, Dr. Awesome, Maelcum and Future Crew - to abortive compilation-appearing demotape-distributing studio band to lean, mean live PA musicians. EuphoniX performs at Vancouver's legendary Commodore Ballroom as part of the release party for the Synaesthesia compilation of Vancouver techno they appear on, followed by an appearance on MuchWest. Tempers flared to punctuate these growing pains (halting to re-tune drum samples in the studio while the meter's running is fine after you've got the record contract), the technology that brought them together stripped away as revolutionary electronic music tools grew more available and affordable... and by the end of it two of the members had parted ways3 from the new core of Jovian and Tomasz - re-branded first as Urban Shade then Drop Modulation, performing unforgettable sets with the outstanding TeamLounge crew - more than anyone defining the 604's electronic party scene in the late '90s - and eventually releasing a criminally-underpromoted album, Elementary. For the time being, Jovian and Tomasz seem to have split ways - Mr. Francey now producing "dubtech" material under the name Dyscotopia.
The years seem to have been happy enough to wear the marks EuphoniX made to dust, illegibility and obscurity, as a result of which their songs are somewhat tricky to find. But the holes they punched in my musical sensibilities are still weeping serum, if no longer bleeding, and as far as I can tell my hard drive is the single largest remaining repository of this material anywhere in the world. Still, a handful of ftp collections improbably remain, and to these I'll eventually get around to referring you. I'm reluctant, after all this, to do so for fear of revelation that the reason EuphoniX was the soundtrack to my growing up was more to do with my growing up and less to do with any quality intrinsic to its soundtrack, that what I've chosen to interpret as a refreshing and glorious eschewing of clichés might more be more straightforwardly understood as dissonance, and that anyone post-Rebirth might not appreciate that any occasionally-uninspired loops they may have employed in their mixes they had to laboriously arrange and deliberately, manually paste in time and again! But without letting you hear the sounds of this past-future that was never to be, all these writings would be nothing more than directionless, introverted and incomprehensible nostalgic meanderings.
So. Some of their .MODs can be found at http://wuarchive.wustl.edu/pub/aminet/info/www/dirs/mods_ephnx.html, mirrored also at http://driley.moonfall.com/mods/euphonix/ - apparently maintained by good ole Dave Riley, seemingly the only man online besides myself to remember that these musicians ever existed. The standard .MOD-playing disclaimer follows: while WinAmp will play some acceptable interpreted abstraction of the music information to some medium degree of precision and accuracy, it is highly recommended listeners make some effort to play the tunes through Impulse Tracker or ModPlug, assuming they can't find an Amiga in working order and fire up ProTracker 8)
Streams of more recent offerings from Jovian and Tom (and a healthy slice of their subdued sense of humor) can be found through respective websites dedicated to their projects and CBC 3's New Music Canada initiative (also dig on the links there to Fidgital and Adri):
And now for a look back...
_______ ___ ___
/| ___ ___ _____ ___ ___ ___ __ ___ ___\ \/ /
| |____| | | | | |\ \| | | | /| |\ | |\| | | | \ / _O_
| | | | | | | |/_/| |-| || | | || | | | | | / \ - dus|.
\|_____\|_|_| |_| |_| |_| \|_|/ |_| |_| |_|/_/\_\
Pre-EuphoniX, '91 to mid '92: (release dates largely unknown but sequence "known" due to a sequential up-to-that-point release listing in Altitude. Unfortunately that listing directly contradicts some embedded release dates, making for some confusion, but as it so happens the accuracy of this information is ultimately of little to no interest or consequence to anyone but me, and after all this time I'm just about resigned to never really knowing for sure.)
Proto-Euphonic miasma - coagulating in '92:
- ??.??.?? - Pribbles.lha, by Jovian. Song name unknown, all we have to go on here is the filename.
- ??.??.?? - Radio-Ex.mod, by Jovian. No known copies, but judging from the filename we can speculate that this finds itself remixed at least twice later on.
- ??.??.?? - Final Exam, by Jovian. No internal mention anywhere yet of EuphoniX.
- 21.06.92 - Extatic Acid, by Jovian.
- ??.07.92 - Journey, by Jovian. Date given is its release date; sample message claims it was composed in 01.91; "This was my first module. Not too exciting, is it?"
- ??.??.?? - Parkmix.mod, by Jovian.
- ??.??.?? - FTL.mod, by Jovian.
- ??.??.?? - Decay.mod, by Jovian.
- ??.??.?? - DReality.mod, by Jovian.
EuphoniX the .MOD group, '93 to '94 and on:
- 14.02.92 - Altitude, by Jovian and girlfriend Karen Cheung. Self-filed under Detroit ambience or Transce ("a synthesis of the words 'Dance', 'Trance' and 'Transcend'"). First recorded appearance of the name "EuphoniX"; Jovian, Darren and Tom listed as members in embedded text file. Nothing is ever heard from Karen again.
- ??.03.92 - ModulectriX, by Tomasz. File under energetic dance. Makes mention of the EuphoniX name, unlike the next several releases, suggesting a certain revisionism in Altitude or lackadaisically self-promoting attitude among members until '93.
- ??.07.92 - 1 by 1, by Jovian, credited to Luminance of Triclone with no mention of EuphoniX, having been sat on for 10 months prior to release. Dedicated to the Legacy Lords.
- 11.07.92 - Trip On This, by Jovian as Luminance, again with no mention of EuphoniX.
- 29.12.92 - Domin8R, by Jovian, taking 9 days to re-remix a version of Modan and Maelcum of KLF's4 remix of the tune by Human Resource. Still no mention of EuphoniX.
- ??.??.92 - Clockwork Dreams, by Darren. Still mum on affiliation.
- 19.02.93 - Gemini part I, by Jason, greeting his future collaborators but not yet naming their group.
Euphonics in 3-D! '96-'97:
- 16.01.93 - Narcosis, by Tomasz. File under ambient techno.
- ??.02.93 - Akira Rave II - the "Pray for a Sequel" remix, by Tomasz. File under hardcore.
- ??.02.93 - Naked After Dark, by Jason. File under kinda trashy, mostly mellow. EuphoniX named, if not credited.
- 21.02.93 - Mystic Valour, by Darren. File under medieval new age.
- 28.02.93 - Stroll Thru New York, by Darren. File under humourous new age theme music.
- ??.04.93 - Incognite, by Darren - on a bit of a spree. File under new age.
- 03.04.93 - Radio Exorcist II - Heretic mix, by Jovian. File under house ambient.
- 26.05.93 - Welcome to the Future - Brazil mix, by Jovian, remixing Eskimos in Egypt. File under hardcore.
- ??.05.93 - Pandemic Predator, by Tomasz. File under violent hardcore.
- 03.06.93 - Synesthesia, by Tomasz. File under very experimental techno.
- 06.06.93 - What is Love?, by Tomasz. File under deep core techno.
- 09.06.93 - Digital Distress, by Jason in his first appearance as EuphoniX member. File under hardcore techno.
- 07.08.93 - NUMB-r14, collaborated between Jason, Jovian and Tomasz. File under solemn ambience.
- 26.08.93 - Temporal Modulus, by Tomasz. File under acid house, or as his sample message would have it - "CRAZY acid tEchno from thE wEst coast!"
- 23.09.93 - Thursday Night in the City, by Jovian. File under fast hard cyber. In the sample messages he points out that the date of this release was, in fact, a Thursday.
- 15.10.93 - Inherit the Stars, by Jason. File under experimental industrial ambient techno, and find that the description only barely scratches the surface.
- 10.11.93 - Runaway, by Tomasz. File under hardcore cyber.
- 08.12.93 - Pandemix Predator - extended revenge mix, remix by Tom and Jovian of Tom's earlier Pandemic Predator. File under extended hardcore experimental.
- ??.??.93 - Visitors, by Jason, sampling the Lawnmower Man and Vampire Hunter D a decade before it might be taken to be fashionable. File under dark hardcore breakbeat.
- 08.01.94 - Dionysia, by Tomasz. File under deep house.
- 15.02.94 - Entropy, by Jovian. File under chaotic techno industrial.
- 26.04.94 - Night of the Living Hoovers, by Jason, in an attempt to "reclaim" the overused and oft-abused Belgian hoover. File under experimental acid.
- 29.07.94 - Oracle I (or its full name: Oracle within sun rising... (elements of sky)), by Tomasz. File under minimal ambience.
- 26.08.94 - Future Chakra, by Jovian. File under murky experimental hardcore.
- 17.09.94 - otesnpyneneidells, by Darren - and the last (and IMHO best) we hear out of him. File under smooth moody techno.
- 03.10.94 - Hoi Polloi, by Tomasz. File under care-free bouncey beat.
- 05.10.94 - Modulus 2, by Tomasz, remixing his earlier Temporal Modulus theme. File under hardcore acid techno or, if you prefer further detail, Tom notes "mixed with a little Force Mass Motion and a little classic Sven Vath."
- 25.10.94 - Dormez-Vous?, by Jovian. File under tribal industrial ambient techno.
- ??.??.94 - Coming of Wisdom - A Lapse of Momentum, by Jason. File under hardcore techno house.
- 03.03.95 - Modulus 3 - African Shadow Mix, by Tomasz further remixing Temporal Modulus. File under fast tribal acid. This track was one of two EuphoniX tunes representing them on the 604 Music Disk presented at NAiD '96.
- 03.03.95 - Vinyl 1 - Girl called Party mix, by Tomasz. File under sweet & chippy, lotsa beats.
- 14.10.95 - Rave95 - EuphoniX mix, by Tomasz, improbably remixing local Admiral Skuttlebutt of Digitallusions (about whom there is likely a whole other node in the eaves.)
- ??.??.95 - Night of the Living Hoovers - better late than chia remix, - by Sidewinder of Jason's earlier tune. File under experimental acid, not being by an actual member this is not considered an official release.
A cassette demo, to be entitled -8- had been plugged a few times as containing "45 minutes of sonic mayhem and mysticism", including "6 enhanced remixes of some of our favorite module releases as well as an exclusive remix of a track on our (hopefully) upcoming CD." Despite the most egregious excesses of my slavish fanboy devotion I can find no evidence of such a tape or the CD, and as such can't tell you anything more on them.
Another (barring a name change after a quick tally) cassette demo, however, was compiled and released under the name Now More Than Ever, featuring No Added Fat, Crustacean, a beefed-up mix of Radio Exorcist and breakthrough college radio chart-topper Let's Get Out of These Monkey Suits, placing5 in the 17th position on CiTR's weekly most-played singles list the week of September 5, 1997 - below Miranda July's 10 Million Hours a Mile and Neko Case's The Virginian, but ahead of Millencolin's For Monkeys and the Planet Smashers' Attack of the Planet Smashers. (Included, y'know, to lend a flavour of the musical context into which these tunes were set free 8)
With one exception6 the release of this tape seemed to mark a clean split of Jovian and Tom, moving towards live music performance, from Darren and Jason, who seemed content to compose in relative isolation abstracted from the physical and realtime response of their audience. Was the split a matter of rockstar egos? Perhaps a realisation that only live performance was where one could also manage to make a living making the music one loved? Whatever was ultimately the case, nothing further was released under the "EuphoniX" imprint.
- ??.??.?? - Akira Rave - Apocalyptic NeoTokyo Mix, by Tomasz. No mention of EuphoniX, and clearly pre-dating Akira Rave II -- I could make up a date, but where's the fun in that? Of all EuphoniX songs it should be noted this and its remix can be reasonably predicted to persist in circulation the longest, thanks to continuing and ongoing fandom of the movie.
- ??.??.?? - Jungle_Modulus.MED, presumably by Tom, presumably the 4th mix of Temporal Modulus, presumably (given the advanced file format) released sometime in the late '90s. (This advanced file format is actually so rarified I can't figure out how to crack it open so as to access its sweet nutmeat!)
_____ _ _ _____ __ _ ____ __ _ __ _ _
//_ // // //_// //_// // // //|// // ||//
//__ |/_// // // // //_// // |/ // //|| - Since 1992
1 N-FORCE-E, AxXaun Flight and AlchemiX appeared to be other, similar labels or affiliations (about which I know less than nothing) breathlessly flung around by the same parties in those heady times, but rarely making more than one or two appearances each. The EuphoniX name persisted.
2 Though their early work doesn't share much of an audible tie to rave musics of the time, awareness and exposure manifests in expressions of solidarity in their sample name messages - from "Rave 4 Peace", "Peace and XTC" and Temporal Modulus' missive entirely (with the ExcEption of onE lEttEr) in lower case gradually maturing to more relatively profound dogmatic hyperbole such as "E equals MIND * CREATIVITY to the POWER of INFINITY" to, eventually, performing at the smaller parties North American raves had by then turned into.
3 God only knows what Jason has been up to in the meantime, last seen further testing out the expanded capabilities of the OctaMED tracker, but Darren landed on his feet at EA Sports and according to Mobygames.com you can find tunes of his in (among other places) the 2000 Sierra title Homeworld: Cataclysm, Superbike 2001 and Crave Entertainment's 2002 game Global Operations.
4 This is of course the notorious tracking group KLF - Krunchy Like Frogs, not the Kopyright Liberating Ancients of Mumu.
5So sez http://www.chartattack.com/charts/college/oldcamp/sep97/9709camp1.txt, albeit mangling the name of the song.
6 04.25.97 - Promise.mmd3, by Jason. File under flowy, spacey, dark and crazy. Comments included in the song notes have the feel of a message found in a bottle, thrown into the tides by the castaway sole survivor of a shipwreck. "As you can tell, there really hasn't been any new material from us for quite some time. Well this might be because as far as I can tell, I'm the only one left writing mods. 'Tis a shame but not surprising... EuphoniX has split into basically 2 entities over the years. EuphoniX the Mod making group and Euphonics the studio band if you will. Quite frankly I haven't a clue as to where I fit in with Euphonics anymore."