It’s hard not to talk aboutLynx without immediately bringing up Dave Konopka, who played guitar in the band before going on to play in one of the most important bands of the last decade regardless of genre: Battles. Konopka got his start crafting a unique sound with Lynx in the late 90’s, and laying seminal influence for the kind of sounds math rock was evolving into.
Lynx was formed in Boston in 1997 and the lineup consisted of Konopka on guitar, Paul Joyce on bass, Dale Connolly on drums, and Mike Hutchins on guitar. Hutchins and Joyce played in a number of amazing underground math rock bands in Boston in the 90’s including Dagobah, Pizza, Helms, and Glans, a 2-piece guitar/drums project consisting of Paul and Mike which served as the foundation for Lynx. This was the first band Konopka ever played in, and they quickly became the pinnacle of Boston 90’s math rock. Lynx was persuaded to move to Chicago in 1999 after a short successful tour from Boston to Chicago and back, which was right at the tail end of the peak of the math rock scene of the Chicago scene heyday. Their first and last release was recorded by Shellac’s Bob Weston at Soma Studios, owned and operated by Tortoise‘s John McEntire and released their self-titled in 2000. By 2001, the band was over, but they left behind one amazing masterpiece of an album. There are also a handful of live videos on the band on YouTube that give a glimpse into how good of a band they were and what they were capable of doing live.
Lynx had a sound that harnessed the use of space, dynamics, and melody to create music that was complicated and dense while still remaining full clarity and never becoming too overbearing or cluttered. At the root of Lynx songs are all the elements of classic 90’s math rock: angular rhythms, mixed minimalism, an emphasis on dynamic control, and a narrative feeling of song structure throughout their songs that’s reminiscent of the kind of math rock and post rock one would find throughout the Midwest. Lynx’s take on the math rock approach differed in its refined guitar playing: mostly clean and seemingly more influenced by jazz and prog than noise rock or post-hardcore. This gave their songs a more lighter feel and consistent focus on melody that paved the way for bands like Piglet, Tera Melos, and Sleeping People to come along in the 2000’s and take Lynx’s style and infuse it with even more musical complexity and influences, drawing math rock more towards jazz and prog and away from the noise rock and post-hardcore influences that had been a significant part of math rock’s defining sound. The songs ‘Pyrnx’ and ‘Raisins’ are great examples, showing Lynx’s refined clean-toned guitar style mixing with angular rhythms and stop on the dime time changes to create a kind of bridge between the traditional Midwest math rock sound and the clean-toned guitar playing and more melodically complex arrangements to come out of a math band in the 2000s.
The band also had a knack to build up songs to their conclusions in a way that was based around the amount of different sections and left turns their songs would take rather than building up songs in a grandiose way associated with contemporary post-rock. ‘Raisins’ was the last track on the album and, just as Slint’s Spiderland built throughout its entirety to the final ending in ‘Good Morning Captain’, Lynx weaved an instrumental musical narrative throughout the album that when it reached its final climax on ‘Raisins’ it was a hauntingly beautiful moment and a testament to the kind of wonderment feeling music can be capable of.