PHF Times  31 pence

"They must be the world's best music rippers! "      
"The PHF wrote history three times already"  

"OVERALL: 82% You must have it !"        "Excellent demos"

Here are some reviews of various P.H.F. productions both good and bad! Thanks to ST News, Amazine and AMIGA Format for the extracts. (C) Amazine (Hemoroids/Mad Vision) , ST-News and  AMIGA Format.


Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 1 - By ST-News
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 1 - By Amazine
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 2 - By ST-News
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 2 - By Amazine
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 3 - By ST-News
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 3 Pt 2 - By ST-News
Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume 4 - ST-News
Lamertron                                        - Amiga Format



by Richard Karsmakers

Somewhere in East Yorkshire, probably where it rains, there live a couple of chaps who go through life using names such as Steely Dan, Grazey, Johnny 99 and Cal. They are collectively known as The P.H.F., and they've been around on computer ever since 1983 -on the Commodore 64 at the time. They have in the mean time transformed into ST beings (even though some of them do stuff on the Amoeba and PeeSee and contemptibles) and learned to code a bit. Although their demo coding efforts will probably not enter history as the world's most shocking instances of this particular phenomenon, one thing is certain: They must be the world's best music rippers!

The first of their music demos, illustriously called "Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume I", saw the light of day in February 1992, now well over a year ago. It was a fairly down-to-earth demo in the vein of the ancient Lost Boys "Def Demo", with the exception that they had concentrated rather more on the music side of things.Using a two-dimensional cylinder scroller of sorts, they created a menu from which over 450 different songs could be selected, varying from the most bog-standard Hippel tuned to stuff you didn't even remember existed! I don't recall ever having seen more music in one demo - as a matter of fact, I believe the previous demo ever to contain quite a lot of music was TEX' "BIG Demo" that contained, so I recall, only about 140 pieces of music.

Demo-wise, nothing much went on in this demo. There was a starfield, a scroller, some part-digi music in the background, and even a reset screen. All in all an average demo by all means if it hadn't been for the enormous amount of music. Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Jochen Hippel, Maniacs of Noise...they're all there. And quite some rather less known characters as well.

 Somewhat later they did the second part of the demo. Well, it wasn't actually a second part but more sortof a second volume. Hence its name: "Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume II". If you thought they must have run out of music after Volume I, you will turn out to be gravely mistaken: Volume II offers almost 500 different songs, therewith leisuredly breaking the record they set with their previous effort.

When starting the demo you enter a Commodore 64 bootscreen. Very convincing - even the horrid blue colour is the same. Still, this yanked me back in times long gone when all I used to do was swap games and rip music (preferably Rob Hubbard stuff). What you got was a C-64 emulator type of thing, including PRESS PLAY ON TAPE - unless you press SPACE, of course (which I did after a while). On the screen appears a C-64 picture ("Hunter's Moon", converted from the good ol' 64) and loading commences.

Unfortunately the PHF guys have spent aeons doing a mega-demo- like playfield where you have to cursor-move a "Turrican" character around a seemingly limitless area. Lower border busted open, Megadeth font (Tanis credited) scroll. The works. Fortunately, they reckoned there would probably be people who hated that sort of thing so you could alternatively press HELP which let you enter a cursor-controlled text menu from which musical pieces could be selected.

Again, you will find all the music you ever wanted. Even more sound programmers could be heard, even a rather talented chap by the name of TAO who seems to be a jolly lot better at doing ST versions of Commore 64 Rob Hubbard muzak than Mad Max a.k.a. Jochen Hippel. What a shame he's member of the Alien Child Fornicators a.k.a. ACF. What a waste.

Not much remains to be said. Demo-wise things are getting slightly better but still it's not the graphics and hot demo tricks you would want to get this demo for. The collection of music - artfully ripped and neatly put together - is fantastic as usual. Very much worth getting! Oh. I shouldn't say that yet't say that yet, for I haven't yet reached the 'conclusion' bit. Sorry for that. Read on for more.

 Just at the end of 1992, PHF did Volume III of the trilogy. This time they decided to use some digi-music that they still had lying around. That's why "Ultimate Muzak Demo III", which is personally my least favourite even though still pretty impressive, contains 'only' 14 tunes in total, of which 8 are basically title tunes and the other stuff of the 'game over' or 'game completed' variety. From the capable hands of Maniacs of Noise (i.e. Jeroen Tel + Charles Deenen), Chris Hulsbeck (who is good but not close to the quality of "Shades" any more) and Jochen Hippel we get "Great Giana Sisters", "Quick & Silva", "Stormlord", "Turrican", "Turrican II", "Warp", "Lethal XCess" (which is quality-wise the best) and "Z-Out". All ripped by Grazey this time, including the respective games' title logos. There's a rather stoic main menu without a lot of bells of whistles. A small scroll and that's it.

Yes, we have reached the bit where, in general, conclusions are drawn, i.e. the end. Or at least close to the end. So that's why I will not disappoint anyone and draw them.

Anyone who likes music, even those who think ST sounds are slightly average on account of the rather bad YM 2149 soundchip, should get these demos. Preferably all of them, but at least Volume II. Anyone can afford three disks, and I think anyone should. These demos offer an unparalelled wealth of sounds, a most substantial part of which is very nice to listen to.

When running the demo you can't help ruminating over times long gone, or smile at the enormous amount of nice blip-blop sounds that pass you by.

Excellent demos, even though not stunning at all from a demo programmer's point of view. I don't think you'll regret getting them.

As they claim in one of their scroll texts that they don't wantyou to send IRCs when contacting them, I suggest you send them three disks right away (without any IRCs if you don'f feel like adding them). I am sure they'll send you the demos back.

I hear they'll do "Ultimate Muzak Demo Volume IV" soon. I can't wait!

Thanks, Grazey, for sending me these demos. For the first time since the release of the "BIG Demo" I really wish I had my ST hooked to my stereo...



by Michael Noyce

It was a dreary, wet Saturday morning - not at all like Summer, but hey, that's English weather for you - when a rather wet postman, looking like he'd rather be at home snuggled up in bed close to a loved one, arrived at the door. Numerous soggy letters were pushed unceremoniously through the letter box. Various bills and letters not addressed to me were quickly discarded leaving an envelope containing a couple of disks.

Puzzlement was my first reaction. I hadn't ordered anything and wasn't expecting anyone to send me something. Which is why I was surprised to say the least that the sender of this package was none other than Grazey of the PHF and that this was he latest demo in the, dare I say it, distinguished "Ultimate Muzak Demo" series, of which I am quite a fan, which was released on September 1st 1994. Feeling suddenly warm inside I rushed upstairs, bowl of cereal in one hand and disks in the other, turned on the ST and inserted the demo into the disk drive expectantly.

This is the second digi-music demo by the PHF and can be considered a stop-gap until volume V, hence the volume III part 2 title. It's also the first "Ultimate Muzak Demo" to come on two disks and to make use of the STE sound facilities! Upon loading you are told to copy the disks 81 tracks, 10 sectors, 2 sides before a PHF logo blasts onto the screen complete with explosive sound effects and flashes, the same intro as in "UMD IV" in fact, then a fake(?) system check and finally the main menu screen is entered.

Apart from the title and some credits this screen can be roughly divided into half. The left side is titled 'Dreams' and the right side 'Fantasies', disks A and B respectively. There are numerous headings that when clicked on with the mouse pointer lead to various sub-menus where the individual tunes and sound effects are selected. One such heading leads to a greetings, other credits and address screen. On all but three of the sub-menus there is a title picture in the upper third of the screen, a music and FX selector in the middle third, and four VU meters across the lower third - if you have an STE that is!

A different tune or sound effect can be played by clicking on the + and - buttons with the mouse pointer. This is where the demo lets itself down a tad. Firstly, when a sub-menu is first entered the tune number is incorrectly set to one when it is actually tune zero playing. Secondly, selection is a little tricky because unless you press the mouse button extremely quickly, by that I mean you need lightning reflexes, you skip about four songs. It would've been better if the mouse button was released before continuing with the next selection. In total there are 11 sub-menus with 48 tunes and 237 sound effects. The sound quality depends largely on what machine you own. If you use ST then the quality is pretty good, however, if you use an STE then you are in for a treat. Not only is the quality higher but you also get everything in wondrous stereo, so extra bonus points awarded here! I'm so glad I was able connect my STE to my stereo.

Concluding: Out of all the Ultimate Muzak Demos I have to say I like this one the least. Not that it's crap or anything, I just don't think it's quite as good as the others, certainly not as good as volume III part 1. Having said that, the use of the STE sound facilities is a very welcome feature that I hope the PHF continue to use in the future. If you liked or collected the other Ultimate Muzak Demos then these two disks are well worth getting. Here's looking forward to volume V....



by Richard Karsmakers

The PHF wrote history three times already. When it comes to sound on the ST, they practically invented its history, or at least the archiving thereof. Their three previous "Ultimate Muzak Demos" already featured just about every single piece of music ever programmed on the ST, both in demos and in games. I guess they must have a pretty good system of ripping music, for it seems they can literally rip anything.

Take "Ultimate Muzak IV", for example. Among the 348 selectable tunes you will also find all tunes present in the ancient and still playworthy game "Bubble Bobble", for example. Apart from these odd balls out you get a large collection of tunes by Rob Hubbard, Ben Dalglish, Big Alec, Mad Max, Driscoll, Jess (!right on!) and about two dozen more sound programmers.

But let's start at the beginning.

After booting you get a "PHF" logo shot onto the screen, followed by sortof a flash that appears around it, not unlike those intros to the old FTL games only somehow better and more impressive. Next you encounter some presentation screens, where the individual characters are put on the screen in various creative ways that really slow down reading speed rather too much at times. Anyway, these screens inform you of who did what, where the music came from, how you have to copy the demo, where PHF may be contacted and the fact that there's 3.3 Mb of music in this demo. It's a perpetual cycle out of which you can escape to the actual demo menu by pressing space or something.

The main menu is the standard megademo stuff - a "Turrican" clone platform menu where you move a character around the screen with the joystick and make him enter the various clusters of sound that are contained within the demo. There's also an alternative, much easier and mouse-driven menu, accessible by means of the [HELP] key. I am really thankful they include that kind of thing too, as they did in their earlier demo. Once the clusters are entered you get a kind of CD player setup with forewind, rewind, exit and play buttons, and a VU display of course. The tune played at the moment is identified by name, and a number after it indicates the possibility of multiple tunes hidden behind one name, accessible by pressing the "play" button repeatedly.

How about the actual music? Most of it is pretty good, most notably the many clusters devoted to Jess of the Overlanders and then of course there's some stuff by Mad Max and Big Alec that's much worth while. Plenty of music - as I said there are 348 in all - and some of it pretty darn brilliant. I am glad that people like PHF put together all this music for music lovers like myself to enjoy.

Concluding, there isn't much to say. Technically it's adequate but not of the kind of class that would make Union members go drool. The music is competently ripped and clearly displayed, which is basically what you want and expect with this kind of demo. I think people should not be without this impressive series of music demos.

Well, it doesn't work on the Falcon, of course, but who had expected that? Too bad, really, but I hadn't even hoped it would. I hope these guys will soon get a Falcon so that they can do a megademo on High Density disk with all the tunes ever done in their previous work, adapted to work on the Falcon and all. Well, a man can dream can't he?



Test by Def KLF/M.V.

They are English, they claim to be active on C64, Amiga and ST. Thanks to arrow keys we are allowed to select among 200 chip musics in a roller. That's not an original idea, the GFX and the code are not brilliant. What I can say about it ? That's not the best demo of that sort, but they say sequels will be released regularly with new musics. So I just recommend this demo to people who likes collecting sound chip musics.

I am not one of those people...


'UMD VOLUME II' By the PHF  by SPY 3 / M.V.

Here's the second volume of the UMD series, by PHF. This one is good, and U haven't only Mad Max and Dave Whittaker tunes ! The main menu is made with Gfx from the game TURRICAN. You control the guy, and you can select different parts. Each part is in fact, from a different composer.By example it's possible to choose to listen all R.HUBBARD tunes converted to ST by different guys, like Mad Max or Tao. It's a good idea ! Most of the musics are new,and they have never been included in a musicdisk before. Here, we can select by example, musics from UTOPIA or LOTUS. Another good thing is that, you can ask them to send you, a music from this demo they'll answer you for sure. There's only one problem: Some zaks from Beast'n'Frazer from The Syndicate, have been included in this demo and the problem is that it should not have been released ! That's really strange ! Read Frazer's article for more infos about it. 

[ CODE : 85% Good replayers. ]

[ GFX : 25% No original work. ]

[ MUSIC : 95% That's a musicdisk ! ]

[ IDEA : 88% Cool classification. ]

[ IMPRES : 88% Good. ]

[ OVERALL: 82% You must have it ! ]