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Brian Kenney Fresno — The Future Is Fresno
(Bonghit Records No #, 2021, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-12-19

The Future Is Fresno Cover art

Most everyone has heard of the infamous Bermuda Triangle, where ships and aircraft mysteriously disappear, but in the western United States there is a 25,000 square mile area known as the Nevada Triangle, an area that stretches from Las Vegas to Reno at its northernmost point, and its westernmost point is the city of Fresno. Over a 60-year period over 2000 aircraft have disappeared in this remotely populated mountainous region, many piloted by skilled aviators, like Steve Fossett, whose single-engine plane disappeared in September 2007. Fresno, at the western end of said triangle, is also the home base of Brian Kenney Fresno, a musician (his main instrument is the Warr Guitar) and composer who got his start playing on the streets of Fresno back in the late 80s, where he sold copies of his early cassette releases. Some, like myself, may have become aware of him through his ‘sideshow’ performances with Idiot Flesh in the 90s. To date he has released around a dozen albums, which can only be described as unusual and unique — there is no one else quite like him, and The Future Is Fresno should be ample evidence. The album features 22 songs, but around half of those are short interludes in the five-second to one minute range that bridge the longer songs together, longer songs with titles like “One Big Happy (Pissed Off Family)” or “Fresno Blues” or “Clovis” (another town north of Fresno), or “Bat Shit Crazy,” and the expansive eleven-minute epics like “Sometime Is Never” or “Google” — it’s amazing how many lyrics he can pack into a song of even moderate length, and that doesn’t even count the sneaky lyrics that you’ll hear if you listen closely. Throughout BKF plays Warr Guitar, steel guitar, percussion guitar, cello, and fretless guitar synth; he is joined by Ryan Kenney Poughkeepsie on drums, percussion, glockenspiel, and samples, and Diane Kenney Albuquerque on violin, mandolin, and banjo, but then again, those may all be the same person, and certainly some fictitious names are in play. The sound is intentionally lo-fi, rough, and chaotic, but it’s all there to for the listener to appreciate. I’m often reminded of the earliest Mothers of Invention when Zappa was still pretty unpolished and over-the-top — this is pretty much a free flowing madness manifesting itself in a local Fresno-centric perspective. There’s a lot packed into each of these songs, both musically and lyrically, and some of it may make a listener uncomfortable, but it is what it is, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Brian Kenney Fresno

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