In a year where dozens of psych bands have created a huge amount of stunning music, one track for me stands bowl cut and paisley shirt above the rest. And that is Morgan Delt’s incredible Barbarian Kings. Its four or so minutes are a glorious fusion of Macca-esuqe bass, twangy Byrsdie guitar and a stunning, dreamy melody, very little from 2013 gets close to its brilliance.
It emerged as one of six tracks on a Bandcamp EP, Psychic Death Hole, earlier this year, and it wasn’t the only classic that collection delivered. It was enough to catch the attention of Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records who signed Morgan up to a single (Barbarian Kings of course) and a debut album that is due out in the spring.
That album is a mix of the Psychic Death Hole EP – in particular Make My Grey Brain Green which is a riot of psychedelic effects and phased vocals, not too far from ace experimentalists The United States of America, and Backwards Birds Inc is a full on Interstellar Overdrive style head trip – and some newly recorded moments too.
The new tracks are very impressive too, especially Beneath the Black and Purple which rushes in on a fantastic Roger Waters UFO era bass riff before heading off into the full on Floyd psych territory that Paperhead have been mining so successfully recently. Mr Carbon Copy is just as good, an explosion of twee English 60s style psych that has a wonderful climax. It is a glorious collection that anyone who loves the trippier side of psych pop will go bananas over. My only quibble is that Morgan has left Black Tuna Gang, the incredible B side of Barbarian Kings, off the album. You have to head over to Spotify, or buy the single to hear that.
Morgan has also pulled Galactic Grids, a bonkers seven minute jam that was on Psychic Death Hole from his Bandcamp page, and it isn’t on the album, so you’ll have to hunt down the EP on cassette or check out this YouTube clip.
Earlier in the year I spoke to Morgan about his music and his plans.
If it is just you who plays all the instruments? And is this your first set of recordings?
Yeah, it’s just me. I’ve done a lot of home recording but this is the first music I’ve released.
How did the deal with Trouble in Mind come about?
Bill wrote to me, but I forgot to ask him how he heard me.
The album is wonderfully balanced in that you have poppy moments alongside more experimental things? Was it always intended that way?
Thanks. I can’t help myself from constantly changing things and adding new parts, so by the time I’m done with a song I guess it turns out kind of disjointed. I used to worry about it but now I like to think that the songs are just layered with all of the different states of mind that I went through while recording them.
But I’ve always been interested in experimental music and really catchy pop songs at the same time, and my favorite records are the ones that live somewhere in between those two worlds. I used to make a lot of bad bedroom noise music but most of the time I was actually listening to the Hollies or The Turtles, so I’ve always struggled with a kind of split personality in that sense.
Who are your key influences? Is it all 60s bands are their more recent bands that you rate too?
I love all of the new psych bands that are coming out, but as far as slightly older stuff, Stereolab, Broadcast, Sleep, and Ariel Pink have all been big influences on me. And Andy Votel’s mixes have turned me on to a lot of great music. I love that no man’s land in between psych, prog, soundtracks, pop, and experimental music.
Barbarian Kings sounds a lot like the Dukes of Stratosphear to me, are they a key influence?
You know, I never got into those records. I should check them out again. I’m a big fan of Drums & Wires, English Settlement, and all of that stuff though.
There are lot of new psych bands at the moment? Do you have any pet theories as to why there has been this explosion?
I think it’s just the beginning and maybe we’ve entered a phase when nothing is going to go away anymore. It’s like we’ve become unstuck in time and everything is going to happen all at once from now on. It feels natural to me because I grew up listening to a lot of jazz and older music and have never cared whether something was new or not.
Really, I’m drawn to any music that can transport me to another place or time, and that type of music will always exist in one form or another because people will always need to escape from reality. To me psych is like the musical equivalent of sci-fi or horror, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be just as big and lasting.
Do you play live dates? Any chance of a trip to the UK?
It’s just me for now but I’m trying to get a band together to play live soon. I’d love to go to the UK.