San Francisco’s Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound is a soundtrack for strange days and futures bright and bleak. But there is also a crooked thread that runs backward through every Assemble Head record—the celestial trajectories of The Notorious Byrd Brothers and circa ‘70 Floyd; the dusty canyon stomps of Crazy Horse, slashing action pop of the savage young Who, Italian bastardizations of Lalo Schifrin cop movie scores, and the scuzz-bomb shrapnel of latter-day garage mongers like Mudhoney and Monoshock.
The band’s third LP, When Sweet Sleep Returned, is propelled to some extent by that same glorious distillate. But it also finds the group speaking their own twisted tongue more assuredly than ever—marrying hazy Saturday moods, interstellar sonics and wrecking-ball swing to song and harmony in poems for California, lovers, ghosts, the stars, and a world gone stark raving mad.
For When Sweet Sleep Returned, Assemble Head re-united with engineering mastermind Tim Green, who manned the controls for masterpieces from Howlin’ Rain, Comets on Fire, Six Organs of Admittance, and Earthless, as well as Assemble Head’s 2007 release Ekranoplan.
The band entered Green’s Louder Studios in October 2008 with an expanded lineup including original trio Michael Lardas, Jefferson Marshall and Charlie Saufley; longtime theremin and synth collaborator Anderson Lanbridge; and mega-multi-instrumentalist Camilla Saufley. The band also reached out to Brett Constantino and Evan Reiss of fellow Frisco freaks Sleepy Sun, for vocal harmonies on the beautifully sprawling and soaring “Two Birds.”
Elsewhere, When Sweet Sleep Returned finds Assemble Head exploring the sun-dappled terrain of daydreams on “The Slumbering Ones”, hard-chugging crust-fuzz boogie on “Clive and the Lyre”, bittersweet melodiousness on “By the Rippling Green”, and space-temple chorale chime on “Kolob Canyon.”
All this ecstatic aural gumbo—garnished with illustrations by hyper-surrealist artist Andy Ristaino—will be served up in early April 2009 on Tee Pee Records
“Sunlit, pot-addled, West Coast rock-pop perfection.”
“Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound's improbable mix of raga, Canned Heat, sci-fi sounds, and Black Flag is batty enough to warrant a Greil Marcus study.”
SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN
“If there were a soundtrack for Pranksters who went on a voyage in outer space, the Assemble Head would be first request. Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound shoebox is bigger than this album can appropriately fill. After all, they each grew up blasting varying musicians from their stereos, from the Music Machine to Dave Burrell to soundtracks from the spaghetti westerns. I foresee an array of explorations from these Westside jammers in the years to come, perhaps even a prophecy.”
“…A real nice slab of contempo psych. Guitar-soaked, but with Floydian star-clusters in some sections and others that are more like the vibe Crystalized Movements used to hit in their shorter, rockier songs."
BYRON COLEY, ARTHUR
The band’s sound is heavy and brooding, cut with tooth-tugging guitar tones and keyboards designed to fuzz your head out. This is the sound of psychedelic America in the 21st century—deeply rooted in the San Francisco hard-psych tradition, the guitars reminiscent of Quicksilver Messenger Service’s John Cipollina and Big Brother’s Sam Andrew—yet translated through all the punk and metal that’s happened since 1968.”
“ (Assemble Head) gives all the familiar old Blue Cheer/Floyd/Elevators touchstones another thunderous and sympathetic throttle.”
AHISS rip through Stooges-style thuggery, the fried garage-pop of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and dusty Neil Young melancholy…this kind of torrid psych music certainly sounds, at its best, like man going nuts…AHISS take pleasure in soundtracking the meltdown, making backward-gazing, portentous, raucously bummed-out music with a West Coast angle and a fiercely positive view of contemporary songwriting capabilities.
“The San Francisco group draw from fecund sources of hirsute, high-times motivators such as Amon Düül II, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, and the colorful triumvirate of Deep Purple, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath. Assemble Head's latest full-length from Tee Pee Records, 2007's Ekranoplan, toggles between cavernous chaos and meditative meandering, like many of the finest psych-rock albums have done, from the '60s onward.”
THE SEATTLE STRANGER