Written By: Victor Alfieri
It is only fitting that on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, a band from San Francisco would release an album like AHISS’ When Sweet Sleep Returned. Every publication under the Sun has written about the summer of ’69. It was exploitation, it was extreme mismanagement, it symbolized the era, etc. etc….One thing that can not be argued was the music.
More than Woodstock, “When Sweet Sleep Returned” reminds me of what the free shows in the park in San Francisco would have been like in that era. Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish…AHISS fits right in with the crowd. I think it’s only a matter of time before we see this band as a staple on the jamband festival circuit.
If you are a pop kid and are looking for three minute songs with hooks and anthem like choruses, this is not the album for you. While AHISS did pull back some and work on structure, it is apparent that they live in the world of long guitar solos and jazz/psychedelic experimentation.
Released by Tee Pee Records, the third offering from AHISS re-united the band with Tim Green. The soundboard maestro has worked with others such as Howlin’ Rain, Comets on Fire and AHISS’ 2007 effort Ekranoplan. The band consists of a trio with an extended family of musicians. Michael Lardas, Jefferson Marshall & Charlie Saufley called upon Anderson Lanbridge (theremin, synthesizer) and Camilla Saufley (multiple instruments) as well as Brett Constatino and Evan Reese from Sleepy Sun for assistance.
When you sit down to listen to this album, you will hear distinct influences of the earlier musicians from the San Francisco area as well as others from that area. Vocal harmonies speak of The Byrds, theremin play sounds like a psychedelic Brian Wilson, Jefferson Airplane etc.
At times the muffled recording makes it difficult to pick up the vocals, almost as if you are listening through a tin can. Those same vocals come out beautifully on “Two Birds.” Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” jumps right out at you when you here the first guitar riff of “By the Ripping Green.” Each of these songs seems like just seedlings of what live versions could be like. This band hits the road, starting in Brooklyn, in September and goes cross-country. It would be worth the effort to find just how these songs bloom.