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The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound - The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

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Artist: The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

Album: The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

Label: Sunburst Sound

Review date: Jan. 31, 2006

Somehow, food comes to mind while listening to the Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound. No real appetite afforded, rather a peek through a camera obscura, a sea of amplified swirling caramel, washing into a drone of creamy white froth. One could direct his/her gaze through the little puncture on the Assemble Head’s supposed shoebox, looking towards the shadowed corners, where the beach of this sea might lie, and find crystalline cherries and paisley lemon drops growing out of day-glo vessels, and a gnomish man telling fortunes to children made of skulls. A phantasmagoria camera obscura, to say the least.

So, what is all this getting at? The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound could easily be classified as a psychedelic rock group out of San Francisco, who sound like Blue Cheer, Love, Jefferson Airplane, and so on. But what good does that do for the listener, let alone the musicians themselves? It’s a bland statement about a group that deserves a more concentrated look. Even the name of the band implies something far more outrageous and cosmic than such a meek categorization.

Throughout each listen, the AHSS’s 10” release becomes more like aural reflexology. As the term suggests, I was prompted to react to this album in a calming way, as if The AHSS were rubbing calluses through the depths of their music. Even within the heavy head-spinning free-for-alls, where instruments unite into one horrific rock beast, the listener can find a cozy spot next to the keyboard, where the buzz stays evenly sonic and whirring. The soft meandering jams seep through the initial abrasive stylings, the primary riffs that could melt plastic and set a head of hair ablaze. It’s like the old proverb about the mean old man who wasn’t really cruel, but was merely trying to look after the herd.

To put simply, or perhaps more intricately, the AHSS keeps a beat so the listener doesn’t forget to breathe. It serves as a reminder of regulation, a circular Zen sort of application, so the guitar and keyboard don’t transport the brain into some sort of ninth dimension, where anyone who surpasses can float, withstand the heat of a star, and roam distant galaxies. Their self-titled record is a two-sided hallucination and they are the maestros. It has an intensity that is almost enough fuzz and screaming guitar to cause the human race to go extinct.

In fact, The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound is the combination of 1920s science fiction books, hallucinogens, and the west coast. If there were a soundtrack for Pranksters who went on a voyage in outer space, the Assemble Head would be first request. A specific track comes to mind that would fit the soundtrack famously, “Kurtz’s Shroud.” In and of itself, an interesting literary character to choose a song title for, a correlation that reveals the weight of what could otherwise be considered a dreamy haze of a folk tune. However, Marlow in Heart of Darkness experiences a similar expedition to that of the AHSS listener, one that navigates to the center of an unknown, unpredictable terrain. So, the link is legitimate.

Even their website insists: “hallucinatory rock n’ roll and pastoral moonbase laments that voyages from the kingdoms of the acid rock masters to Morricone’s desert soundscapes…” I couldn’t agree more.

Time to backtrack to the camera obscura. I get the feeling that the 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.

By Kate Hensley

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