Usually the band comes out first. Guitars are strung, the drum beat starts, lights go up and a slight bit of fog hangs in the air over the stage.
At Mars Café on Monday night, there was no such intro; just one man, a tip jar and $5 case of CDs for sale. Unknown Component, also known as Keith Lynch, premiered his new album “The Infinite Definitive.”
Lynch, an Iowa City native, is the total package. Self-taught, he can play the guitar, drums and piano. Independently produced, the Unknown Component project began back in 2002. Lynch weaves the lyrics and melody together as well as all the album artwork.
“I like to think I’m creating something original,” Lynch said. “It’s kind of like a foreign language—the combination of melody, lyrics and notes.”
He played at Mars Café back in 2008 with the launch of his first album, “In Direct Communication,” and decided it was a worthy place to play again. What is better than a frothy Cosmonaut paired with new music?
Lynch took the small café stage, after the café’s weekly session of “Scented Vinyl,” with the first song off the album, “Moving out of Frame.” The indie tunes were smooth, folksy and refreshingly unrefined as they reverberated against the windows to a small, but eclectic crowd of students and locals.
“He sounds smooth, it’s easy listening and would be good to listen to with headphones and coffee,” Colin Hagan, a Drake University senior, said as his friends tapped their toes with a slight nod of agreement.
Lynch graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in philosophy, which he cites as being one of his main inspirations for his music.
“It’s about the deeper questions in life,” Lynch said while setting up for the show. “Everybody has important questions and everything is changing all the time.”
Many of the musical intros demonstrate that Lynch understands the connection between rhythm and the progression of a song. However, some of the lyrics blend in against the background of lackluster chords.
Lynch could benefit through review and collaboration with different music producers, but being the self-made prodigy that he is, listeners know he will bring an authentic voice to each performance. The night’s performance got better the more confident he became and the longer the night went on.
Being a full-time musician keeps Lynch on the road most weekends. Next week he’s hitting Chicago, then Elmhurst (a Chicago-suburb), Omaha, Neb., and then it’s off to Madison, Wis. He confessed that his favorite type of venue to play is outside.
Getting the word out in the world of underground music can be tough, but Lynch has been garnering media attention in music magazines, such as Big Takeover, and radio airtime on the “UnderCurrents” station.
Would you like to support up-and coming artists? Purchase Unknown Component tunes on iTunes or on the website, http://unknowncomponent.com. There, listeners can also join the mailing list, purchase T-shirts and the entire catalog of the first eight albums with almost 100 songs, for only $14.99.
Lynch is going places, and he’s prepared to write his own future. He said all interested listeners should watch the newest music video for the song “Electric Dissolution,” made overseas by an interested producer in Paris. This follows the last video directed by a 16-year-old from Ukraine.
“I’m fully committed to the music,” Lynch said. “I want to be successful, and right now I’m just working on enjoying myself.”
Photos: Courtesy of Keith Lynch