Sound by Its Cover: The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound

The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound’s Ekranoplan

Wiiiiiicked. Likely the coolest album cover — by the band with the coolest name and the coolest album title, no less — to cross our desk in the past six months, The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound‘s Ekranoplan (out next week on Tee Pee Records) looks fuckin’ cool! Who needs music with album art like this?
San Francisco psych-revivalist trio The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound (please note: this review will make every attempt to repeat that name as many times as possible) “embodies the best of San Francisco’s cultural past — evocative sounds that modernize and reinterpret the past 40 years of outsider and underground jam and psychedelia,” reads the press release from Speakeasy PR. Now, we’re well aware that that description may turn off many readers flat-tired of ’60s San Francisco Sound rehash. But please, for the love of all that is holy and tie-dyed, before you spurn The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, check out this album cover. It’s fuckin’ cool!

First impressions are that the The Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound (or whoever drew this work of art) must’ve partaken of some top-shelf drugs. Stone-cold sober (unless green tea counts for anything…maybe I should eat some poppy seeds), it’s my task to deconstruct the piece from a whole other state of mind. Barring that, I could just tell what I see, post a jpeg (click the thumbnail for a bigger image), and leave you to your own devices.

Starting at the top, we have a dark sky of crimson clouds lined with black smoke…which seems to be dripping blood. Very nice. Scroll your vision from the upper left corner to the right, and wham! The face of satan emerges from the clouds, spewing molten lava onto a mountain below. Further to the right, a human head — with glowing green eyes and curly black hair, perhaps one of the band members/Assemble Heads — levitating in the sky. His partner, meanwhile, zaps the wooded valley beneath the mountain with green lasers that project from his eyes. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy.

Just below the valley, a futuristic city reminiscent of Star Wars’ Cloud City. It’s like a Mayan village for the 23rd century. Below our view of the city, more trees — a pine forest, in fact, populated by Sasquatch that peer ominously from behind tall, narrow trunks. Up one tree slithers a large blue snake. From a distant part of the forest, a tree shoots into the sky like a space shuttle, with a flame at its base and thick black smoke trailing behind it.

And finally, along the left edge of the cover, the profile of a wizard-like face. A short, pointed grey beard, empty golden eyes, and a wrinkled brow lend the man a sense of the supernatural, as if maybe he’s the inhuman architect behind this haunting fantasy land.

Mind you, these are just the basics of the cover image. As with any good record, it’ll take time to discover all the nuances. You know what to do.


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