The first thing critics and audiences want to know about Philly's Photon Band's main-man, Art DiFuria, when they hear the composer/singer/guitarist's impure pop output is "where did that come from?"

That's only because the trajectory of DiFuria's career as prince of all things psychedelic has been upwards; yes and true, but with precious few albums. Those albums all lovingly reference psy-pop influences such as Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Syd Barrett without being obvious.

"I never take issue with the questions, but man, am I ever tired of hearing my answers," says DiFuria with a laugh. "Academia. Dissertation. Syd and Jimi talk to me in my sleep and colors come out of their mouth . . . blahblahblah."

Thankfully, DiFuria never apes his heroes. And he never stops making powerfully nuanced noise with gorgeous melodies and strangely tense lyrics. Take his just-out EP Get Down Here in the Stratosphere and Photon's due-by-March CD Back Down to Earth. Like the hazy Saturday morning sound of All Young in the Soul and the detached spirituality of Alone on the Moon, Photon's newest efforts come when DiFuria's forcing himself to focus his dreamy energies.

"I wanted to go to the ocean, or climb a tree, or build a house in the woods and sit by the fireplace, but I couldn't," he says.

So, he wrote and recorded the "deafening reality trip" with the "laughing cartoon guitars" of the sloppy, spacier Get Down and the richly driving and bluesier Back Down almost without thinking; automatic space blues if you will. "Yes, I think you're right," admits DiFuria. "But I don't think I was initially pushing things in that direction."

Photon Band, Caterpillar and The Trolleyvox play at 9 tonight at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Tickets: $8. Phone: 215-739-9684 and johnnybrendas.com