ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND
When Sweet Sleep Returned CD - Tee Pee
On its latest full-length release, When Sweet Sleep Returned, San Francisco's Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound lets their freak-out flag fly proudly. The stoner rock/neo-psychedelia band, though, is more commonly influenced by British sounds than the Bay Area's nascent acid rock pioneers: there is more early Pink Floyd here than The Grateful Dead, more Hawkwind than The Jefferson Airplane. However, this crew is no one-note retro trip.
The group gets modern on fuzzed-up grunge/stoner rocker "Clive and The Lyre," akin to Mudhoney covering Nebula. And "The Slumbering Ones" mixes evocative boy-girl vocals with shimmering overtones highlighted by keyboards and reverb-hued guitar, which give the atmospheric tune an English prog-rock twinge: think The Bevis Frond joined by David Gilmour and pals. "Kolob Canyon" starts out straightforwardly with ringing six-strings, adds ethereal Cocteau Twins-esque voices, and then becomes a Brian Jonestown Massacre-like jam underlain by Theremin and crisp percussion.
Interstellar space interpolations are undeniably the governing strength that keeps the record absorbingly progressive. "Two Birds" begins with Bob Weir/Jerry Garcia-esque harmonies (courtesy of Bay Area newcomers Sleepy Sun), but meaty guitar, crunchy drums and bass, and a twisting three-minute instrumental outro provide the epic piece the otherworldly impact fans have come to expect from Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. Americana folk, heightened with floating flute, opens final track, "End Under Down," but before long the cut switches into another fuzz-crusted, no holds barred freak-out.
By Doug Simpson