Keith Lynch, who produces music under the moniker Unknown Component, makes lo-fi music that teeters on the precipice of contrasting ideas. His music flirts with both typically structured pop songs with an identifiable melody and ambient music that forgoes traditional pop sensibility. His latest release, “Blood v. Electricity” (out Oct. 23), is a conglomerate of seemingly disparate musical genres that manage to sound like a unified whole under Lynch’s tight song crafting and wise production choices.
Opener “Intuition” starts with a warbling sound among a hazy tone before the atmosphere crescendos into a mournful piano hook. The thumping guitar of the main verse of the song is mirrored by Lynch’s forward-moving multi-tracked vocals that sound like a mantra in their resoluteness. “Nowhere is Alone” has the ambient and ethereal quality of hazy instrumentation combined with punkish guitar hooks. He even adds a backing choir of Gregorian chanting for the latter song. But Lynch is able to use his vocals (which are not the strongest) to his advantage by mixing them at equal level to the instrumentation. This way, he and the instruments sound euphonious, without one overpowering the other. His vocal style is almost reminiscent of Bob Dylan — somewhere between folk and rock.
“Blood v. Electricity” is an interesting name for an album that it is mostly acoustic. Electronic elements are most prominent on “Gypsies of the Apocalypse,” with fax machine-like intro and spindly guitar outro really start to make the LP transcendent. By limiting himself to few instances of electronic music, they sound much more prominent when you hear them. “Pendulum” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. The thudding guitar swings back between two different chords and the drums clamor relentlessly.
Lynch adds enough flourishes and accentuation to keep the record interesting on repeat listens. It is a mostly single-layered LP, but there are enough interesting hooks buried deep in the mix that it doesn’t seem stale. “Sensory Deprivation” is the most punk song of the album. Lynch whines while guitars thrash and a steady drumbeat drives the song along. A shoegaze guitar plays behind his melodies to create the hazy atmosphere that is omniscient throughout the record.
The latter half of the record turns more towards this atmospheric stormy punk sound. “For All Intents & Purposes” sounds like a classic power pop song, only shifted through an ambient and shoegaze filter. “Dust & The Shadows” turns away from this by stepping towards a more country sound. The cadence leads the song towards the end without letting it meander too much, while a faint Spaghetti Western guitar plays. Lynch attempts to use genres and clichés that we already know and are aware of, but he presents them in a new light that strips away any preconceived notions the listener might have. Towards the end of the album the melodies begin to sound a little too similar to each other, and his quiet-verse-loud-chorus approach begins to wear thin. But at a concise length of less than 40 minutes, Lynch knows not to overstay his welcome.
Lynch is a self-taught musician. He played, produced and mixed all the instruments on the record. This complete control over his creative process allowed Lynch to create something entirely his and a statement of his artistry. His material is accessible to everyone, however, because he plays with the notion of things that are familiar and nostalgic to us but makes them into something of his own that almost deconstructs all the genres contained within.