Written by Dragan Stefanov
Back in 2014, Morgan Delt managed to bring something new to the overused genre of psychedelic rock. His debut self-titled album, with its quiet percussion, covered in stacks of 60s psych guitars, faint and melting vocals, and a ton of fuzz, was received well by the audience. The Californian psychonaut managed to create an LSD-trip-of-an-album pretty much by himself in his bedroom. Two years later, he releases his second album, Phase Zero, and the big question is will Delt managed to keep the momentum he’s gained?
The answer is yes. Morgan Delt’s Sub Pop debut LP is a tasty psychedelic success. As a matter of fact, it almost sounds like an entirely different artist is behind it. That, or Delt switched from home-made acid to mushrooms. The sound is stunningly more clear in Phase Zero; a tamed album which lacks the rough edges of its predecessor. Whereas sounds would just burst through the window out of nowhere, now they bloom slowly without disturbing the overall soundscape too much.
The album opens with the quiet and melancholic I Don’t Wanna See What’s Happening Outside. I particularly like how Delt’s voice gently hums behind the instruments, adding a hint of phobia to the sunshine-filled song. Similarly, Some Sunsick Day closes the LP with a dreamy yet clear pop sound. And every song between these two is a different stage of a mushroom trip that is swimming in sunshine (if not drowning).
The System Of 1000 Lies and Another Person are the musical definitions of a lazy stoner Sunday, both of them are good songs to space out in your room to. Sun Powers may come as a bit of a mood swing with its faster tempo. However it saves the album from becoming too slow and hazy by adding a new dimension to the soundscapes Delt is creating.
For the most part, the emphasis falls on the instruments and Morgan’s voice is echoing around like a hovering trip sitter. The exception being The Lowest Of The Low, where the sunshine is replaced by an uncanny dream. The spotlight falls on Delt’s wavy vocal work, which is what I imagine a conversation with your subconscious might sound like.
Occasionally you could feel that there is a bit too much mellow sunshine and the tracks kind of melt into each other. While this could be what you might want from a psych album, for me it feels like a slight decrease in quality. ‘Phase Zero’ requires a few listens before it starts growing on you, whereas its predecessor managed to stand out with its rough and noisy charm.
However, the overall clean sound we hear manages to surpass the charm mentioned above, although Delt hasn’t cut down on using many different noises and sounds. He appears to have mastered this like a well-practiced instrument. Rather than being stacked and piled together, the sounds and random noises are layered with precision, disappearing as suddenly as they had manifested a second ago. Tensions are relieved as soon as they are created before being formed again.
All in all, Morgan Delt’s Phase Zero is not so much an album as it is a guide to every possible type of mushroom trip you can have. Ritualistic chants, lazy sunshine-filled acoustic guitars, an echoing conversation with your subconscious, and a hint of creeping psychosis at the end of almost every track.
This album will definitely add flavor to your next trip.