Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s “When Sweet Sleep Returned” is truly under the influence. It’s head music most likely made by heads (although I don’t know them personally, they could be tax accountants by day) and unashamedly, even proudly influenced by late 60s west coast hippie rock and some “Ummagumma” era Floyd. AHISS rock fiercely and often, but aren’t heavy or gross enough to be deemed “stoner” or dark enough to “psych”. It’s pure psychedelic rock, traditional even, which is paradoxical because back in those happening days, rock was busy morphing into a multicolored, revolutionary, mystical Hydrabeast. Tradition was first on the chopping block. Then people realized the guitar solos were too long.
Playing like acid tests of yore may be anachronistic now in the late aughts, but it’s a throwback in a good way. AHISS’s songs are often simple blues based riffs, fuzz saturated and patterned with guitar acrobatics. Vocals are mixed deep and what’s audible seems to be about nature and sci-fi. The drummer is heavy but graceful, and has some spot-on Keith Moon fills. Often, the garage band setup is enhanced with organ, sound effects, flute, and strings. Highlights include “Drunken Leaves” a heavy, ragged track the band absolutely plows through. Next is “The Slumbering Ones,” relaxed and lava lamp graceful. “End Under Down” wraps the album up with gentle strumming until the vats of thick fuzz pour over everything.
AHISS show a lot of restraint by staying so true to their sources. If not for the Tim Green production you could probably convince someone this came out during the Nixon administration. Even though the sonic trails have been blazed for a few decades now, Head make energized and very enjoyable albums. 8/10 -- Mike Pursley (15 July, 2009)