Blood v. Electricity. Just the name of it inspires thoughts of some horrifyingly awesome dubstep/metal hybrid music. It sounds like a court case between hard rock and techno. The artist name, Unknown Component, fits this theme too, as does the album art—a distorted, rippling view of lightning electrocuting a dark pool of blood.
When actually listening to the album, however, it is none of these things. It’s much calmer than the name would suggest, featuring acoustic guitars, and a piano instead of keyboards. This is not to say it’s all flowers and sunshine, however; the album overall gives off a creepy or haunted vibe, which I enjoy.
Unknown Component is the independent solo music project of a man named Keith Lynch. Currently based out of central Iowa, Lynch plays every instrument himself (he’s a self-taught musician, which is quite impressive), and even records and mixes his albums himself in his independent studio. About Blood v. Electricity, Lynch says, “I really took my time with this album and focused more on the overall sound of each song so that all of the individual instruments were allowed to find their own space. I also put together a new, independent studio and was able to update a lot of my recording equipment, which seemed to bring out all kinds of new ideas.”
The music spans a range from soft to excited, often weaving back and forth on that scale within single songs, making for a listen that will hold your interest the whole way through. The tone varies somewhat as well, at times sounding gritty (aided by the slightly grungy vocals), as in “Gypsies of the Apocalypse” or “The Invisible Line,” and at others coming off as more sad, like in “Painting the Weather” and “Dust & the Shadows.” The instrument tracks are perfectly synchronized—impressive for a one-man operation—bringing together the feel and flavor of each track, and each is played exceedingly well. The drum lines, always a personal favorite of mine, are especially strong on “Pendulum” and “For All Intents & Purposes.” The only complaint I can make is that the music sometimes drowns out the vocals, making the lyrics hard to discern.
The standout song on the album for me, however, is definitely “Moral Vultures.” Coming in the exact middle of the set, it avoids the common pitfall of putting the best tracks on the album in the first half, leaving filler for the rest of the CD. Beginning with a catchy beat that practically begs you to move to it, the song features some of the best-written lyrics on the album, as in the second verse: “Underestimated and dignified / a beautiful illusion of wrong and right / dedicated only to improvise / to weed out information of every kind.” Far from the tripe that graces popular music channels these days, the lyrics on the rest of the album are great as well. How many bands do you know that can use lesser-known vocabulary like “vitriol?”
Blood v. Electricity won’t officially be released until October 23, but when it does come out, I highly recommend that you get a copy. I know it won’t be leaving my playlist for a long while. Until then, you can check out Unknown Component’s website at http://unknowncomponent.com/.