Those who were quick of the mark will have already picked up Morgan Delt’s cassette-only release Psychic Death Hole last year. For anyone lagging behind or just opposed to this current trend for the resurrection of the cassette, this repackaging of those songs with five extras thrown in is timely and has been worth the wait.
Resurrection is a big part of Delt’s raison d’être. Not only did he initially release this songs on a format that should have been dead long ago (despite what many might argue), he also digs into pop and rock’s past and breathes life into sounds that haven’t been heard in years; well, not in such convincing terms, anyway. This is a finely crafted homage to the late ’60s sound. Maybe sometime in the future Delt will really mess with the template, but for now, the devil (and the authenticity) is in the detail.
Barbarian Kings is perhaps one of the smartest moments on the album. It takes the two factions of the American ’60s sound – West Coast hippies, and the Velvet Underground chaotic, droning kill-all-hippies stance and confines them in a woozy four minutes. It’s cosmic certainly, but there’s a discordant drone underpinning everything that makes everything ever so slightly unsettling. Mr Carbon Copy meanwhile appropriates Mason Williams’ Classical Gas and gives it a dirty low-fi punk edge. The song’s title hints at Delt’s slightly flawed chameleonesque ability. These songs are essentially copies or assimilation, but they’re slightly dirty and imperfect. Check his fingers, and they’ll be covered in black ink.
Beneath The Black And Purple is stabbing psych-rock that tempers its tendencies for freakout explosions with oppressive claustrophobic production. It might sound expansive initially, but it sometimes feels as if the song is pulling the air from your lungs. Also hidden in swathes of what sounds like welcoming summer wind is the stoned stumble of Obstacle Eyes. There’s classic pop nous at work here, but Delt’s insistence that there be at least a single layer of freaked out dabbling, means that it shares common ground with John Frusciante’s first solo album Niandra Lades. It’s a wonder of simplistic but disorienting mixing/production techniques. If things go off the boil a little with Chakra Sharks (uninspired riffing, but over in mercifully quick time) and Little Zombies (pleasant enough Byrdsian romp, but how many of those do we really need) then it’s just a blip.
There’s plenty of fun to be had elsewhere. Make My Grey Brain Green is a whirling/whirring psych explosion that sounds like a kind of clockwork take on Hawkwind. Somewhere on their cosmic journey their brains fall from their ears in grey/green spools, and it freaks them out. Tropicana finds the band on somewhat more earthly footings. They’re still out in the wilderness though, specifically the desert. At times it sounds as if Delt has roped in metal gods Sleep to help him out. Backwards Bird Inc meanwhile is a slinky funk number that stumbles along like a pissed up gumshoe, magnifying glass in one hand, the other over an eye so he can only see one piece of evidence rather than two.
Ending with Main Title Theme, it’s perhaps fitting that the album draws to a close with a suitably cinematic and woozy tune. The scope of this album is considerable. It is multi-faceted, wildly coloured and not always entirely coherent. It’s a little like watching Santa Sagre in a flea pit cinema whilst stoned out of your mind. There’s almost too much information and wild ideas to contain in such a small outburst. Make no mistake, Morgan Delt’s brightly coloured world will be stunning when given a big enough canvas and the right tools. For now, the flea pit is the place to be. Just try not to freak out too hard.