On June 10, a new pop album dropped on the US music scene. It is the culmination of four years of writing, travel, and soul searching by 24-year-old Alex Deep. It's a sophisticated offering for a young musician born into an Italian family in Venezuela.
The concept album is a reaction to Deep's struggle to follow his own creative path and to find meaning for himself. Life came at Deep in a remarkable way, dramatically influencing his approach to music and what he had to say in that medium.
Considered a rebel not only by his family but by a culture that didn't approve of music as a serious career, Deep started spinning discs at a local club when he was 15. His choice of material began to pack in crowds, and Deep thought this was where his creative energies would be flourish. He was beginning to arrange music and became a producer.
His mother quickly intervened. She sent him to Boston to study business and earn credentials in a proper career. Deep approached college with a fever, hoping that if he fulfilled parental obligations, he would then be free to pursue what he wanted to do. Consequently, he packed a four-year degree into three years, taking a heavy load and even doing summer classes. But, he also took piano lessons and managed to practice up to four hours a day and still keep up his school work.
Then when he was 19, a close friend was killed in a motorcycle accident. Deep was hit in the face with mortality, his own and those of everyone around him. This is a profound lesson for a young adult to fathom. He realized that at any moment his life could be snatched from him and his dreams would be gone. Deep began to write in earnest. He wrote music. He wrote lyrics. He wrote a short book of philosophy. Everything he wrote uplifted an approach to life that was based on being true to yourself and living your life fully, with no regrets.
Deep took this new work to his professor who promptly suggested that Deep should travel, to get some life experience, and then go further with his work. Deep finished all of the demo songs for the prototype of the full-length album and left it with some industry people in Boston. The young musician then soaked up life in Miami, New York, Mexico City, and Rome. He refined his little book of philosophy and the songs he had written.
When a producer called to invite him to come record his work, Deep came back to Boston and recorded a studio EP of the work, called Poppy Fields. Deep moved to LA and began work on the concept album, Stoned By Dreams. Both were released under the name Merlinmoon, a recurring dream he's had of Merlin engulfed by moonlight, giving him advice.
Stoned By Dreams comes with a small booklet of eleven short chapters of Deep's philosophy. That work is more poetic than a discussion of how to live your life, though that is certainly there. The music of the CD, however, looks at passion—dreams and relationships. Though the songs are being touted as psychedelic/rock, it really isn't. It leans more toward techno/rock with some touches of Pink Floyd and the Who, bands that were expert on concept albums. Deep willingly admits in his liner notes that he had intentionally wanted that 70s sound.
For Poppy Fields, Deep created the backing band for the EP. He played guitar and piano and programed drum and bass on his keyboard. Stoned By Dreams does have a full band with backing vocals. However, the album doesn't list credits for any of the music. His websites list three musicians who are the band. They are Berkeley College of Music alums Bradly Greenberg on drums and Payvand Salehi on bass. Michael Wise, who plays guitar, also played with Greenberg and Salehi in high school. These may just be musicians who tour with him.
Stoned By Dreams does create a mood with deeper layers than much pop/rock out there. A couple of days after the album was released, Deep played a live concert for Italian designer Ennio Capasa's Costume National clothing line in Caracas, Venezuela. Capasa designs for stars such as the Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, etc. Merlinmoon's dreamy music was a great backdrop for leggy models stomping the runway.
Deep has plans for more albums, including one to honor the friend he lost. He also has written the soundtrack for a film he is written. Also, there is a music video for Poppy Fields floating around on the Merlinmoon myspace page.
If you're into 70's concept albums, check out Merlinmoon. It's an interesting listen.