After the blitz of SoCal Chicana sass from Snow Tha Product, why not transition to another SoCal vibe entirely: sun-bleached, pre-apocalyptic psychedelia. Morgan Delt’s “Some Sunsick Day” is the closing track on his 2016 release Phase Zero, his second LP, and his debut with Seattle’s own Sub Pop. The instrumentation was performed entirely by Delt in his Topanga Canyon home/studio, where he also recorded his decidedly crunchier, gooier self-titled debut in 2014.
There is no central conceit or narrative to Delt’s albums, but they certainly make their own world. The songs are a diffuse mesh of influences, notably 60s psychedelia, sci-fi, and revolutionary themes. Half a century later, those sounds and themes have been crusted over by a strange patina in Delt’s production. Insouciance has been replaced with uncertainty, even melancholy. Flower Power hedonism that fancied itself a radical act merely for its transgressiveness no longer flies. In Phase Zero, imagining other worlds is still vital and radical, but so is direct action.
Delt doesn’t preach so much as evoke this sensibility. The music and lyrics are always too abstract to be so heavy-handed. “Some Sunsick Day” even ends Phase Zero on a spritely note, one that seems to reclaim some of that optimism, being wiser for it.
In Quarantine With Morgan Delt’s “Some Sunsick Day”
Vaguely apocalyptic scenery. Check.
A slow drift where time and space have lost meaning. Check.
Reminders that we are adrift in an unfathomably strange universe. Check.
Disembodied hands that seem to be practicing social distancing with each other and the universe. Check and check.
The accompanying video for “Some Sunsick Day” is a perfect melange of images paralleling Delt’s major influences. One sees vast alien landscapes and interstellar spaces. More familiar settings get the hallucinatory, acid-trip treatment via digital distortion a la Deep Dream. For instance, a row of supermarket shelves is becoming faceted and gnarled. Depopulated landscapes pulse with an invisible life of their own. Geodesic domes melt from pristine Buckminster Fuller geometry into Gaudi organicism.
Traveling through these worlds and voids are what appear to be disembodied hands. It’s a poignant and strangely endearing choice by director Vinyl Williams (Lionel Williams), another Californian, neo-psychedelic multimedia artist and musician. As a pair, the hands start linked by some energetic field, never touching but moving in synchrony. But then they separate, and by the ambiguous end, only one seems to remain in a lonesome bubble. It’s definitely a vibe one may be prone to feeling these days. Even when together, we remain apart.
For now, we hold onto the hope of eventual togetherness “some sunsick day.” At least the forecast for the next few days here in Seattle is nice and warm. In the meantime, you can check out Vinyl WIlliams’ “Lansing” for an extra dose of abstract future-nostalgia below.