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 Constatino and Evan Reese 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.