Exposé Online banner

Simon McKechnie — Newton's Alchemy
(Voyager 4, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-04-20

Newton's Alchemy Cover artArtists’ inspiration can be triggered by just about any experience, internal or external. (To be precise, all inspiration is internal, though it may be brought on by something in the outside world.) For London-based composer Simon McKechnie, it came from learning about the alchemical pursuits of Sir Isaac Newton — along with being one of the most influential thinkers in the history of science, Newton spent many years delving into the magical realm of transmuting elements. The result of McKechnie’s inspiration is an elaborate construction of progressive rock, nearly a one-man effort, featuring drummer Adam Riley throughout and occasional contributions from Clare Salaman (nyckelharpa) and Jan Hendrickse (bass flute); the composer plays guitars, keyboards, bass, dulcimer, psaltery, and percussion in addition to singing. Most of the lyrics come from Newton’s own writings. In keeping with the subject matter, the compositional techniques are sophisticated and elaborate, but to McKechnie’s credit it all works splendidly even without paying attention to the intellectual aspects. Musically there’s some kinship to such contemporary bands as Underground Railroad and Birds and Buildings, with the non-rock connection being more with 20th Century music than Romantic or Classical. Like a fractal design, the closer you look, the more details you make out, be they melodic fragments cropping up in multiple pieces, unexpected combinations of sounds, or off-kilter rhythmic twists. Newton’s Alchemy is an outstanding accomplishment in progressive rock, free of cliches and strikingly original without sounding stuffy or fussy.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Simon McKechnie

More info
http://www.simonmckechnie.com/#/newtons-alchemy/4584875292

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Secret Oyster - Live in the USA 2007 – And that’s the way it was! This is the NEARfest Friday show from June 22, 2007, featuring three original members (saxophonist Karsten Vogel, drummer Ole Streenberg, and guitarist Claus Bøhling)...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues