w/ The Lonesome Organist, The Plan The
Tues June 5
So let's say you've reached the age where listening to jazz is no longer a chore, nor is it a novelty. You've even picked up a few records: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Stan Getz are all included in your starter kit. But you've spent a good chunk of your life listening to punk, hardcore, and all its trivial sub-genres, so it's not easy to fully comprehend jazz or its origin.
Even still, you have a passion, and although the origins of music like jazz and dub were long before your time, you hold your own personal interpretation of what this music can become, with little regard for what is expected of a post-hardcore enthusiast.
This is the case with Chicago's Euphone. Having made his mark with the prominent Midwestern punk band Gauge, drummer Ryan Rapsys broke expectations in order to pursue a kind of music that that exists separately from punk. Euphone was unveiled in 1997 as Rapsys, on stage with only his drums, a sequencer and keyboard. Amazingly, he held his own. It wasn't until 1999's Calendar of Unlucky Days LP that a second member was added (bassist Nick Macri, with whom Rapsys plays on Sub Pop's Heroic Doses).
Helping to promote what some refer to as the "new-jazz" currently occurring in Chicago, Euphone would be greatly appreciated by fans of groups like Tortoise, Isotope 217, Sea and Cake, HIM, and Chicago Underground Duo. Not to say that any of these groups could be easily slipped into a genre such as jazz, dub or indie rock. And not to say that these groups fit snugly together, either. But it is certain that jazz and dub influences are a defining factor that binds all these groups. That, and geography.
What separates Euphone (whose third full-length, Hashin' it Out, was released this year on Jade Tree Records) from the aforementioned fathers of the "new-jazz" genre, is a small, healthy degree of self-concern. While groups like Tortoise have had a propensity toward excessive noodling and drawn-out ambiance, Euphone has an acute understanding of rationing their hooks. Their bleep-bloop electronica chunks last just long enough to act as an appropriate intro, not a potential soundtrack to a Volvo commercial. Also, they have the ability to convey an energetic and uncommonly upbeat sound, without ever sounding foolish. And they do it with such confidence and tact that they never run the risk of being considered a sort of "pop Tortoise," which is an impressive task.
Groups like Euphone add hope to the notion that their sound isn't just part of another fad. And though members of these groups often receive respect for pioneering a new sound, it is somewhat unfortunate that this appreciation is limited to a small community. Though some would prefer to keep it that way, there are also people who aren't so wrapped up in the selfish scene as to cloud the purpose of music's progression in the first place. This is a music that exceeds passing trends. Perhaps, in thirty years, Euphone will help form the new take on an old sound.