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Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound biography
Westcoast psychedelic prog outfit ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND (AHISS) were formed in San Francisco around a core of three musicians - Jefferson Marshall (guitar, bass), Charlie Saufley (guitar, bass), and Michael Lardas (drums). On their experience in lives and gigs with collaborators including Anderson Lanbridge (theremin, poetry) or Ray Castro (keyboards), in 2005 they could release the first vinyl, as a private press of 500 LPs, stuffed with elements of early Pink Floyd, Amon Duul II, 13th Floor Elevators, or Crazy Horse.

The year 2006 was exactly their milestone - AHISS signed on with a NY indie label Tee Pee Records, and recorded a new album with Tim Green, an extraordinary engineer and producer based in San Francisco. In March 2007, with a great help from Anderson and multi-instrumentalist Camilla Saufley, they made an official debut with the album 'Ekranoplan'

In October 2008, AHISS re-united with Tim Green and entered Green's Louder Studios with Anderson and Camilla as well, and reached out to Brett Constantino and Evan Reese, the guest vocalists of SLEEPY SUN, for graceful and magnificent harmonies of the song 'Two Birds' - in this way, in April 2009 AHISS shot the second effort 'When Sweet Sleep Returned'.

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3.00 | 1 ratings
The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
3.81 | 18 ratings
3.61 | 19 ratings
When Sweet Sleep Returned
3.88 | 7 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound by ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.00 | 1 ratings

The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound
Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by tigerfeet

— First review of this album —
3 stars The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

This was their first studio album which was self-released in 2005 debut, and was limited to 500 copies. They have since released three studio albums: Ekranoplan (2007), When Sweet Sleep Returned (2009), and Manzanita (2012).


This first track eases in slowly and seems to lure the listener into a dreamy sunburst dream. The sun is setting, the waves are slowly licking the shore, and the soft breeze is warm on your face. The dust kicks up and the sun is surrounded by a halo of orange and blue light. Yes, it is an early start for the evenings psychedelic space rock trip. But wait, suddenly the mood darkens and we leave the earth behind.

Scorpio Sun Queen

Since the last track left the listener in limbo, the Scorpio Sun Queen arises in the distance. It looks like we have a destination. Harking back to some flower power era or an element of Iron Butterfly with less intense keyboards. The track moves along at a slow to steady pace, a little repetitive but to be expected with this space rock genre. Wait! I do like it when a track picks up tempo and this one certainly does that. Mid-way through we double the tempo somewhat and now the song finally evolves into a crazy drenched fire circle with flashes and bangs and intoxicating warmth. Then as fast as it became upbeat we lavish back into the dream.

Creeping Spirits

A nice little taste of Rolling Stone-esqe riffs starts off this song. Again, the song is supposed to intoxicate, lure, and seduce, and a likeness to some early Hawkwind. The subtle distorted guitar and repeating bass lines, simple but sweet. Something you probably wouldn't want to play if you had a migraine, but non-the- less interesting enough to keep you listening. A shorter track this time you say to yourself as midway it comes to an abrupt end.


Finally, a nice proggy part to Assemble Head here as the prior track meanders into some nice folky acoustic guitar, not unlike Led Zep but with more melancholy. This track was my favorite of the album so far, and only for the prog-folk aspect and feel of a change of pace and meaning.

Sunk Upon Green Sea/Storm and Stress

The track starts out as a kind of surfy grungy Beach Boys song Its almost as though someone had taken a Beach Boys song and laid a distorted guitar over it. Quite basic and monotonous however, just about enough in this track to keep me interested. A short track and id way we cast of any iota of the Beachy Boys and now are lost in space. The last part of this track suddenly changes course and melody. You can really hear how Assemble Head were in their early garage basement era of development as a band.

Kurtz's Shroud/Phantom Ramjet

Twangy guitars and a repeating guitar riff begin this nearly 7 minute escapade. A little Barret meets 13th Floor Elevators but well worth the wait as the final part of this song Phantom Ramjet is the most deserving of all the tracks on this debut album. We end this album with a lot of wah and distorted guitar and minimal vocals. I enjoyed getting to listen to this album.


I did enjoy this album although it is nowhere near as involved and developed as their latter releases. You could clearly hear the infancy of their early musical ideas but it was nice to hear and compare the budding growth of the band throughout all their releases. However, it was quite a basic album, not that much to really get my teeth into. It was a splattering of good ideas throughout and pretty well executed. The production was OK, again not as good as the albums they released subsequently.

This one is a solid 3 stars for me and that was mainly because of the deserving relationship this album had with creating the future sound of The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound.

 Manzanita by ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.88 | 7 ratings

Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by tigerfeet

4 stars As usual this amazing group gives hearty tribute to late 1960s and early 1970's guitar style riffs mixed with exquisite melodic vocals, a plethora of keyboards and a dash of the Kinks, and still maintaining a close tie to early psychedelic music throughout. British Invasion meets California Surf meets Garage Rock, with a spacey psychedelic edge, with great use of guitar effects and reverb and mild to medium distortion throughout with a wonderful fluffy sounding keyboard.

A common theme throughout the album is either a cool as a cucumber reverb, a clean guitar sound, or a nice warm and fuzzy distorted guitar, or a bit of both. However, all the songs maintain a pop/rock driving force on this little gem of an album.

L.A. Sacrifice

Not sure if there was any reference to the song Soul Sacrifice or if intended or not, but there is surely a teeny weenie tiny hint of Santana somewhere in this great opening track? Serious thought invoking vocals and throbbing bass, great guitars, and Hammond keyboard sound throughout.

Gone (Round the Corner)

Lovely melody here with an upbeat albeit undercurrent poppy theme. This one grows on you're the more you listen to it and has a great guitar hook and plenty of fun towards the end with some wild distorted guitar. Then suddenly an unexpected Peter Green 'Man of the World' kind of ending.

Blue Wire

Wow, what can I say. Such an intro which kind of pulls you in to the song. An ambling sauntering, swaggering intro which chugs along really well. Then for the bridge/chorus. A nice turn and inventive musicianship. Nice distorted guitar with plenty of vibrato mid way through. The song appears simple but is so well put together it all makes sense.


Another 1960's or 80s throw back trying to be the 1960's style pop intro but do not be misled. It almost reminds me of a great band, Orange Bicycle or early ELO, or dare I say Beachboys. Once again towards the end a nice gruff sounding guitar.

Ghost String

Nice use of harmony vocals again with another catchy tune. Smooth guitars and solid structure. Mid-way through a wonderful change of tempo and feel. Then we close the song with a groovy fuzz guitar solo and then back to the beginning.

Slithery Thing

One poppy spacey intro to a song after another on an album, I would usually go quite crazy, but for some reason Assemble Head seem to get away with it. Perhaps it is because they are totally committed to this kind of atmosphere to a song and they are 100% not faking it. Again, great atmosphere and harmonies throughout this track.

Green Meadow Slow Down

At last! I am excited. Here we get a nice Canterbury themed intro and change in keyboard sounds and drums with a sweet flute to boot. Smooth vocals and well constructed song which then evolves into a lovely tune indeed. It certainly revamped this part of the album for me.

The Flume

This one for sure again took me back to sounds of the 70s California Sound which reminded me of a Los Angeles based 2008 band the Allah-As mixed with a little bit of Babylon Zoo.

Low Island Blues

No blues here, at all, really. But wait, at least there is a fun jingly guitar riff which takes us out of this fine, tasteful album.

To sum up.

Overall I loved this fourth album by Assemble Head (if you include their self released and named album in 2005). I got to listen to that first album online but it is not listed here on prog archives.

I don't like comparing a band's albums directly to one another but I would say that this one as their third album may not have the diversity that may be represented a little more in the first 3 albums and of course production changed hands after their first album. The first album if listed here would make a great review. It is for sure much more raw.

However, all the songs on this 2012 album Manzanita are wonderful as individual songs and have a great personality of their own.

I would give it a photo-finish 4 as it is an excellent album overall and a very nice addition to a progressive rock collection.

 Ekranoplan by ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.81 | 18 ratings

Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by timburlane

4 stars Trance inducing guitar riffs, synth sounds swooping and burbling along, blissed out guitar solos, forty-eight gallons of reverb and a further fifty of delay, how much more Space Rock can you get? And the answer is none! None more Space Rock! This is an album which certainly bears the mark of Hawkwind at their best, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Cheer and pre-Dark Side Floyd and I must say I rather like it. There is not even a cursory nod to sounding new and contemporary with a firmly retro psychedelic sound firmly in place throughout and this suits me fine, but if you want bleeding edge innovation, complex melodic development, rhythmic experimentation and up to the minute sounds and grooves look elsewhere. If, however, you like the bands listed above I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy this collection no end.

It's quite common at the spacier end of prog for the vocals to be not particularly prominent in the mix and for the overall texture to be a fairly dense (but entirely beautiful) wall of sound and this definitely true of Ekranoplan. As a result, most of the time I have no idea what the singer is singing about but that's fine. He has a great voice and I'm too lazy to Google the lyrics and anyway they might be rubbish and that would taint my enjoyment. All the instrumentalists clearly know how to play and the lead guitar has a kind of garagey Gilmour quality to it that I find most appealing.

There isn't a duff track to be found here and my personal faves are track five "Occult Roots" and track eight, the instrumental "The Morning Maiden" which is probably the most old school sixties psychedelia sounding number but to be honest its all out the top drawer of the space rock cupboard and if that's your bag of mushrooms you'll like this album. Their second album "when Sleep Returned" is even better so I can't give this five stars but it's definitely a high four.

 When Sweet Sleep Returned by ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 19 ratings

When Sweet Sleep Returned
Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Movies about time travel are abundant, yet we all know that a time travel machine doesn't exist. Or does it? If one listens to bands such as Astra, Diagonal, Future Kings Of England and the likes, one gets the impression that time travelling might be responsible for the uncanny precise sound-alike nature of the sound of these bands. Not only do they play in the same vein of past psychedelic rock bands from the late 60s' and the 70s', but they sound just like them. I mean, it sounds like a vintage recording, as if a long-lost recording has been unveiled and brought to light of day to grace us all and get its deserved recognition. Such is the case with the wonderful lush sound of Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound and their two albums so far. The NY based psychedelic and stoner-rock/metal focused label, Tee Pee, has released both albums by the band.

With their 2009 release, When Sweet Sleep Returned, the band goes on with their wonderful rich psychedelic sounding rock, their vocal harmonies, and their mix of Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and krautrock-like freak-out sessions and guitar soloing. This San Francisco based band brings back to life, or rather carries on the spirit of an era, a movement, and a sound and style that I personally adore and am addicted to. They do no succumb to lengthy (and often pointless) noodling and over-done jamming. Instead, it is done in a concise form, where relative short songs are performed, vocals echoing well mixed in the sound and not in the front, with the whole messy and raw sounding (but very much appealing) full blown sound. Their succinct song crafting style, making relative to the point pieces is a good idea for those who tire from long and unending jams. Though I would have loved for several songs to go on. The music is quite fast on average, there's not much dynamics as it stays pretty much at the same intensity levels and tempo throughout each song (and overall) and those are highly energetic. It might sound all too same-y to a casual listener, but repeated listening will reveal what each song holds. For instance, The Slumbering Ones, being a slower than usual song, has a haunting harmonic vocal line and a beautiful underlying melody supporting it, with fantastic keyboard treatment; whereas, Two Stage Rocket, is a more straightforward rapid mind-wobbling piece. I have great time listening to this album; its cheerful spirit and upbeat sound is most welcome as is its captivating atmosphere.

 When Sweet Sleep Returned by ASSEMBLE HEAD IN SUNBURST SOUND album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 19 ratings

When Sweet Sleep Returned
Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars Like a big wave, thickened and rushed riffs break into our brain! The sounds smell fragrant like an elegant whisky, not irritating like pure alcohol.

What their brilliant goal or purpose of musical style is, I wonder. They play with splendid, magnified chorus with deep, drowsy, spacey rhythm section and dragged, multiplex guitars and keyboards - and yet pop and melodious flavour should not be lost at all. There is nothing specific to either pop nor space rock but exactly complex flavour like estery and smokey one of a well-matured whisky or wine. Their melody, tune, or tempo is slow, thick, heavy but slender, that reminds us stoner progressive rock (but not metallic). Their chorus is, I feel, like early YES or THE BEACH BOYS, so consequently not only graceful and elegant, but also of deeply trailed atmosphere. Bulldozed and hypnotic repetition of warm sounds can be called exactly as the mixture of an opposition to another.

Two Stage Rocket has theremin sounds by Anderson like an ascending air stream, drifting guitar solo, and steady drum sounds with relax. They can drive psychedelia with leaving some of friendly tune here. Easy to groove to the song - feel wonderful. In Two Birds all vocals can perform perfectly in their chorus with each other, as in the fourth track The Slumbering Ones. Remind us fresh air and cool water - very comfortable but rigidly with heavy and spacey riffs and floating atmosphere by synthesizers. This song is the longest in this album but should not force its length as the other songs's natural and smooth for us listeners. The next song Drunken Leaves is, as the title says, drunken and vertiginous space rock. Around it are heavy noises leadin' to our heartache and palpitation - these achy stuffs cannot exist in pure heavy rock songs. Sticky and slimy repetition by all instruments should outweigh catchy flavour but the pop spice should make us relaxed in the outer ground. Kolob Canyon is a song with real canyon's magnificence, by terrific chorus and strict guitars; we can be struck with the grandeur. Furthermore, here is nothing affected - natural and smooth, as well. A heavy-folk-flavoured song, By The Ripping Green, has more stoner kickin' than other songs. Dreamy dream comes from the laidback guitar solo. As well voice solo can be widely spread. On the contrary, noisy psychedelia with massive attacks by guitars and drums is Clive And The Lyre. Even though here are some repetitions with simple and flat riffs, why can we bubble as such? In the last song End Under Down the flute solo is very graceful and plaintive - heavy guitars or percussion following that should have the same taste. All will get downturn and finished I imagine? But their psychedelic trip will never end?

This album let us feel obscurely cool. Wink.

Thanks to DamoXt7942 for the artist addition.

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