Morgan Delt: Braving the Psychic Death Hole

Bud Paradise

morgan delt

Photos by Matt Draper

It’s so very odd the sensation of meeting a piece of music and instantly wanting to care for it. It’s an ostensibly obnoxious thought. You didn’t create it, nor did you even help to produce or promote it. Hell, your discovery of the damn thing was most likely calculated in the first place. In fact, you’re probably some gung-ho weirdo submersing yourself in recreational fantasy, and that’s great because that’s quite possibly the origin of the creation in which you care so dearly enough for to even consider this rationality…which brings us to Mr. Morgan Delt, 36, of Topanga Canyon, Calif.

It was over a year ago in December 2012 that Morgan Delt released his self-produced tape Psychic Death Hole and invented the label Inflatable Tapes to conceivably legitimize his eponymous debut. It was, being that it is now sold-out, a six-track double-sided spool of swirling and dripping psychedelic madness. Pop by nature, transcendent in execution, cathartic and beautifully exhausting in practice. Millennial translation: #OrganicArtisinalPizza

Sometime last year but after May, a certain gung-ho weirdo who — after listening to Delt (by suggestion of the New Zealand blog The Active Listener)—decided to care for this man’s creation “upon first listen.”

“From the very first song ‘Make My Grey Brain Green’…from that very first 45 seconds of [Psychic Death Hole], it sort of takes you on this weird journey,” relays Mr. Bill Roe of Trouble In Mind Records chuckling, “…from that moment, the first time I heard it…I knew I had to work with him.”

For Roe, who runs Trouble In Mind out of Chicago, Ill. with his wife Lisa, Delt’s sound is indicative of the 21st century mindset where the generational folds have collapsed in on themselves. An all encompassing array of a half-century of generational buzz. Techniques past and present are all in style and the contemporary here is merely one who could certainly get lost in that timeless, generational ambiguity. A talent who fits nicely into Trouble In Mind’s latest class of variegated paisley baroque authors: Maston, Jacco Gardner, and Doug Tuttle.

“There’s this whacked out sensibility to [Delt] that just incorporates forty years of psychedelia into a blender and he somehow makes it sound like his own,” says Roe. “It’s got Oh Sees, Ty [Segall], White Fence, Flaming Lips, even Love, The Byrds, Zombies — it’s all there, and it’s right in the forefront. It doesn’t sound retro and doesn’t sound necessarily of the day, but it does at the same time. It was mind-boggling to me.”

The “Barbarian Kings” b/w “Black Tuna Gang” 7” was the first of Delt’s music to be released by the label in September 2013. The A-Side “Barbarian Kings” — one of the five tracks culled from Psychic Death Hole for Delt's 11-track self-titled LP — and is nothing short of a DMT trip. What did I just hear? What did I just see? How long was I in? Was I just listening to Gandalf's “Golden Earrings” in an 1890s Chinese opium den? What just happened? What did it tell me? Am I OK?

“Barbarian Kings” is the second track on his self-titled LP and clocks in at under four minutes — none of the tracks on the album exceed the mark — but each song on the A-side tranisitions into the next forming an almost 15-minute deluge of black licorice brain candy. In the midst of the dizzying third track “Beneath the Black and Purple” it may have been three minutes, or it could quite possibly be the end of the 40-minute freak of an album. On a phone call from Topanga Canyon, Delt explains the head trip is intentional.

“I’d rather have a three minute song that changes into four different things than to have a ten minute song that never changes,” says Delt. “I dig that kind of stuff and will listen to it sometimes, but I personally gravitate toward over-the-top baroque and the ‘everything’s crammed in at once’ approach.”

Delt records everything on his own using Ableton which he then processes through a tape machine to get that underlying warble. His almost symphonic sprawls of instrumentation lend themselves to his fickle-minded history as a musician.

“When I was a kid I did all kinds of stuff. My parents had me taking all kinds of lessons—piano, stuff like that,” he says. “In school I started playing saxophone and getting into jazz and stuff for a while. Then I probably started playing guitar when I was ten. Then [I got] into recording when I was a teenager.”

He goes on, “I was never really on any one thing. I kind of always jumped around, did a whole bunch of different things — tried to play a lot of different instruments.”

The distinguishing theme throughout Delt’s first LP is his affinity of tape delay which provides that bubbling cadence of a creepy limbo only the queerest of times evoke. A quality he considers to “better” his sound.

“[Tape delay] makes things sound better so I keep adding more and more,” Delt says. “On one hand I was thinking I need to ease up on the the tape delay, on the other hand maybe people dig it”

He's been producing his own music for years, only to take it down — offline — following discouragement from lack of acknowledgement. He’s currently working on a lineup to bring his psychic death hole concoctions into the live setting, but he's a particular person with meticulous material.

“I want to [play live] but I’m also a perfectionist control freak. I get discouraged sometimes like, ‘You’re not good enough!’” Delt admits. “I have played a bunch of times with some people and gone through some lineup changes. But even on my own I keep realizing I’ve got a lot of work to do by myself. Because there’s a lot of stuff where I just record something once and I don’t remember what I did or how to play it — there’s a lot of things where there’s two or three guitar parts so I’ve got to figure out how to arrange that down into one guitar part I can play while I sing.”

Translating a complex variety of music like Delt’s is no easy task, and once it’s ready how is going to look? With nothing scheduled nor a set backing band maybe we’re months from hearing Delt’s kaleidoscopic acid pop in-person. Roe’s contribution goes as far as releasing records for Delt, so maybe it’s up to the next gung-ho weirdo to concoct a tour or a one-off melty matinee featuring a sonic and visual performance nothing short of a Hawkwind show helmed by a 6-foot-2 Stacia bathing in the projections of a lunatic.

Morgan Delt's self-titled LP is out now on Trouble In Mind.

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