These six short vignettes are earworms. Bass lines last for days and bloom like flowers opening their petals toward the morning sun. Vocoder-laced vocals that are simultaneously timeless and from another time. Byron Crenshaw packs unimaginable weight and emotion into minute-long songs. “I might spend eternity here; haven’t touched my friends in a year,” his electronic voice croons on “Shaving Cream LSD,” hitting that broken heart zone we’ve all been stuck inside over a liquid choir and crawling, melancholic guitar scales, rising ever more panicked and frantic.
Unexpected harmonies flow freely throughout Kensho !. Crenshaw has an incredible ability to not simply write these catchy, memorable codeine pop hooks, but to augment them with layer after layer of his voice as a synthesizer. Moments on “Contact High” come through like an AI barbershop quartet stuck in time. It’s weirdly hypnotic, inspiring vivid images of an alternate universe where everything seems utopian on the surface, but underneath is a roiling stew of fear and sadness. Crenshaw is so good at mixing odd and disparate elements into fresh, new concoctions that I’m almost thankful these pieces are short, otherwise it’d be too overwhelming.
Kensho ! doesn’t require patience, per se – it’s over in a flash – but spend a little time with it on repeat and it becomes anesthetic. Crenshaw’s songs are written for maximum impact, twisting phrases into sonic sonnets wrapped inside neon basslines like sweet morsels to get the medicine down. When he takes a phrase like, “I saw things I imagined,” and twists it through a mesmerizing emotional matrix, it becomes bigger, brighter. The words aren’t just words anymore, they’re a reminder to open your third eye and let pieces of the astral world in.