The Deep—
Psychedelic Moods

Released 1966 on Cameo-Parkway
The Seth Man, December 2004ce
“Take a Trip–Freak Out–Blow Your Mind–You’re on Your Way to the Psychedelic Mood–A Way of Life–A State of Mind.
Don’t take this album lightly–play it when you’re alone–in a dark room–you may find yourself oozy–you may feel as though you’re high–you might imagine shadows on the wall.
‘The Deep’ takes you on a new adventure in sound–an experience you’ll never forget. They capture moods that have never been done on record before. Recorded in a pitch black studio (at Cameo-Parkway, Phila.) In the wee hours of the morning. Listen to it that way–that hour–and hold on–you’re on your way to a new world–a world of the psychedelic mood.”
-Neil Bogart, Director of Sales & Promotion
(original liner notes to “Psychedelic Moods”)

For all the over-embroidered ’66 hip-speak, that future head of Casablanca Records never uttered truer words in his life. For alongside the first Thirteenth Floor Elevators LP, “The Cosmic Sounds Of The Zodiac” and (certain parts of) The Fire Escape’s “Psychotic Reaction” LP on GNP Crescendo this album does indeed capture moods that had not been done previously on record, as well as being firmly entrenched in the alternating sublime wonder and terror of full strength nighttime acid trips. And while it’s an impossible task to clearly define exactly what was the first truly psychedelic album, “Psychedelic Moods” is certainly one of the earliest and most primal of examples. Released the same month as The Elevators’ debut in August of 1966 (two months prior to the illegalisation of LSD in the United States) its pitch-black background, pink monster movie typography and artwork of a semi-decomposing silhouetted figure wielding a guitar whose interior is comprised of inverted mythological scenes, it was so early a statement it probably ran the risk of being misconstrued as a kiddy’s Hallowe’en sound effects record by the majority of those few people who came across it during its brief tenure in print. Which may explain the bold, stenciled “NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN” warning printed (twice) on the back sleeve.

It’s easy to get lost inside of this album because it is a truly dense affair despite the fact it’s almost a half an hour in length. Because in those 29 plus minutes are twelve songs that at times feel both simultaneously unrelated yet weirdly similar to each other -- As though the songs are short and suddenly shifting panels of emotions flashing behind an ever changing gallery of lyrics running in place in front of a back-lit projection of sound that express only the disorienting sensation of movement but without budging an inch. And the lyrics are wild word associations peeled off the top of a blown head in freewheelin’, highly charged-folk idioms whose overloaded senses are busy working overtime reporting everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) it has experienced in the past two minutes of eternity. Although “Psychedelic Moods” sounds like no other record if the “East-West” lineup of The Butterfield Blues Band joined by the Holy Modal Rounders and several members of 1965-era Mothers of Invention with some diehard soul who laced the whole thing with vocals that vacillate equally between sensitively expressed love balladeering and obnoxious Jagger’d-out snot vox to dwarf even Dave Aguilar then it would come pretty damn close. Almost.

I say almost, because “Psychedelic Moods” by The Deep has something else: vibes. And when I say vibes, I don’t just mean lysergic ones, either (although those are all fully present and accounted for in spades) for there is a horde of vibraphones, tympani and bells that rampage throughout the record at (nearly) all times. To top it all off, well-placed sound effects lace the proceedings effectively.

The main force behind this stew of gaga was one-time New York folk singer Marcus Uzilevsky, also known pseudonymously as Rusty Evans. Evans had been recording music since the late fifties and in the early sixties became involved in the Greenwich Village folk circuit, releasing three albums in appropriate stylings of that scene. But this itinerant artist continued his odyssey, leading him first to Los Angeles in 1965 and by the following summer was within the studios of Cameo-Parkway Records in Philadelphia where “Psychedelic Moods” was recorded with songwriting partner Mark Barkan, guitarist David Bromberg and a group of studio musicians. And the tracks they laid down were tempestuous garage punkers, sweetly-penned ballads or ambiguous weirdnesses all creased with hyper-psychedelic lyrics that are truly a rollin’ nighttime expressway of flashes through the subconscious mind.

“Color Dreams” kicks off the scene with epic tolling chiming bells and booming tympani as the ensuing action flies fast and furious. The rhythm fuzz guitar is set so widely buzzing it’s a virtual background wash for the spilling of a rapid and wild succession of word play that predates The Pink Floyd’s “Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk”:

“Blue black/Purple mac
Orange yellow/Funny fellow
White brown/Pink town
Orange red/Pink bed
We’ll pretend/Yellow man
Jesus saves/Planet rays
Green red/Commie dead
Blue green/Yellow scream
Spanish fly/golden eye/pearly white/outtasight...

Grey flannel/TV panel (sound effect of shifting psychic panels)
Blue peach/out of reach/apple pie/oh my!
Fingernail/emerald sail
Brown suit chartreuse knapsack thumbtack pushcart go-cart tippy-toes skid row...
Barber pole/yellow roll...

Polka dot/mind rot
Jingle bell/William Tell...”

On that last fantastically burnt couplet, the vibes gain in rhythmic prominence and strike groovily on the mark as though they’ve been itching to commandeer the piece into a stylish Lionel Hampton-styled Avalon-moonglow-afterglow-cocktail hour all along (And if it weren’t for Rusty’s bucket full of punk snarl and brusque overuse of fuzz riffs, it would almost succeed.) “Color Dreams” is one of the key moments of the album. The vibes, the primitive “Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet” kettle drums, bells and tape loop of superimposed female laughter that race by teasingly all unite to create a true representation in music of the overloaded and peaking psychedelic mind.

“Pink Ether” follows, and it is direct from the simmering cauldron where the Precambrian soup of creation is simmering to a boil. This is the beginning of the next mind warp as birds caw, wheel and squawk overhead as stinging fuzz guitar creates a matte background against which kettle drums boom and report along with ringing bells and it sounds as though a fictional International Artists freak scenery combination of Walt Andrus had he engineered The Elevators’ first album. Specifically, side two but only those songs wedged in between “Fire Engine” and “Tried To Hide,” the ones that ooze into each other and slowly undulate, signaling a break in ordinary reality as they pull into a non-linear dimension defined not by laws, ego or chance but by the innermost corridors of the most primordial sectors of the human brain. A place where the walls are etched with cryptic runes of intuition, scars of passing seasons and passions, made grimy by the swelling and pull of gravity as they intake all sensation and emotion and marked in places by the patterned scorchings where hard-wiring into human consciousness has taken place for countless generations as a multitude of connections are made, short circuited or have caused psychic fuses to blow out altogether. This leads further into those corridors where all sensations lay: memories caught in the web of tremulous amber webs that connect everything to anything in a web of free-form association...The potential that lurks and lies dormant, yet to be stirred... OK, with that said, “Pink Ether” hints at The Elevators’ “You Don’t Know” and “Monkey Island” while a background fuzz guitar scats it up in a ’65/’66-era Mike Bloomfield style over soothing female backing harmonies. “Pink Ether,” man: it’s fucked out flat or flat out fucked, I can’t decide which. Luckily, the beautiful “When Rain Is Black” ushers in next with the first of several ballads accompanied by deep breaths, whispers and finally, sighs as xylophonics sooth into the quieter domains of passion.

Incongruously enough, crickets and a gurgling infant introduce “It’s All A Part Of Me” which in turn kicks up a most squalling punk storm. Tympani reports in the background as taped vocals are weirdly manipulated to sound like bubbles bursting at the far end of a dark lake, or someone babbling senselessly to the open air as they rock back and forth on their haunches. It bears a faint resemblance to the pre-Warlocks/proto-Grateful Dead outfit The Emergency Crew who recorded tracks in November of 1965 and one of them, “Can’t Come Down” is very similar to this in terms of its speedy electric folk paces and overall heckled textures. “Turned On” features big organ fills and even bigger tympani over the constant sound effect of a jackhammer continually drilling in the background as more Jagger-esque vocals that insistently bark out slowly so you r e a l l y understand “I’m really getting shattered/cuz I AM/TURNED ON...” And the jackhammer continues as though still working at that hole through and into Evans’ addled cranium.

The otherworldly “Psychedelic Moon” features the distant rumbling of tympani and not-so-distant stinging fuzz guitar accenting throughout this overall ghostly sound piece as percussion and whatever else is nearby is struck and hit to accent every slowly enunciated and damaged lyric. Weaving all around are not a set of mallets but more a magic wand waving over a full set of free standing vibraphones, and the vocals are still stringing out the words as if to stretch them to the moon and back. It could only end with a cryptic laugh, so... It does.

Side two is (relatively) more down to earth with the calming and romantic beguilements of “Shadows On The Wall,” another Evans ballad that travels at the speed of either 1mph or candlelight, whichever is slower. And although the vibes nearly touch the realms of cocktail hour, a hopelessly out of tune slide guitar ricochets and zings all over the place. Rusty’s lead vocals are backed by softly intoned female harmony vocals.

The heavily-echoed jug band blues of “Crystal Nite” resounds with Toytown xylophonics and vibes set against banjo, washboard as waves of highly-reverbed vocals intone “Crystal nite.../bring my lover back to me...” among other things sweetness and light until the jack-in-the-box goofball-ending-out-of-nowhere comes chiming a cuckoo clock to interrupt the sentiment with the cryptic spoken line of (I think) “We went back to all awaken and it was all over the news.” Following is “Trip #76” with the tagalong vibes and tympani combination over fuzz guitar blares from the far end of the studio as though seeking to encapsulate the one moment of The Elevators’ first album where Roger Kynard Erickson sings the line “liquid plastic castles” and turns that one sentiment into a song all its own. I think The Deep just did. Damn. This is followed by the moderately-paced optimism of “Wake Up And Find Me” and the sound effects sit this one out, though not so with the omnipresent vibraphone usage. Evans’ vocals are accompanied by female vocals as he once nearly and almost touches the same yearning intonations of the young Roky K. Erickson. It’s beautiful.

The last of the red hot snot anthems follows as “Your Choice To Choose” barges in with nuthin’ to lose: randomly plucked strings of either a banjo, a completely out of tune acoustic guitar with nylon strings or the innards of some unfortunate cat are held behind raging, out-Jaggering-Jagger vocals against a simply thrashed out drum beat. In the background of this cacophony rages what sounds to be a recording of the very same track running backwards. Again, it almost approaches the primitive and energetic strumming of (again) ’65-era pre-Grateful Dead, but with lyrics far crazier than “Confusion Prince” and intoned in roaring, accusatory Jagger tones: “The walls are breathin’ like sweaty flesh!/Your TV chair’s got magic legs!/And now it’s stretching like a giant’s mouth...” and so forth. Yikes.

As usual, with a complete change of mood and style the album ends with the playful, childlike wonder of “On Off-Off On.” Here abounds ‘a touch of Christmas’ (as a 1969 British music paper once described a track off “Madcap Laughs”) and it is very nearly the soundtrack to The Godz and Mr. Barrett exchanging gifts by the fireplace as vibes, tympani, bells and flute all gently hint at “Joy To The World.” Evans and Barkan would reconvene a year later for another studio-only project, The Freak Scene’s “Psychedelic Psoul” with a track called “The Subway Ride Thru Inner Space” and that sentiment echoes in here dénouement with Evans’ most endearing line of the album: “The train lights up the subway tunnel/Leading to the answer to my dreams...” Suddenly, the album and song end after it cops to the underlining Christmas theme with a brief refrain of “Joy To The World/la la la” as it cuts off into the final sound effect: a huge explosion. Natch.

Listen to in the dark for maximum effect.

It was not until the mid nineties that “Psychedelic Moods” first saw release on CD, issued on Collectables within a string of five separate volumes of outtakes from the “Psychedelic Moods” sessions combined alongside material from other Evans-related projects and productions. “Psychedelic Moods” has been poorly bootlegged several times on vinyl, but the recent CD release on Radioactive is the best-sounding version thus far, both in sound quality and the use of the dramatically superior stereo mix.