Heavy prog rock from the United Kingdom, latest full-length album released in 2011.
DeeExpus hail from the North East of England and were formed after guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Andy Ditchfield decided to develop his long time solo project into a working band.
A chance meeting in April 2007 with singer Tony Wright, who had been in a band with Andy when they were both in school, led to DeeExpus becoming two for the first time. The initial intention was to form a full band at this point however the two found they worked together so well they set about writing and recording their first album, with a few guest solo performances. “Halfway Home” was the fruits of their labour and was released to worldwide critical acclaim in May 2008, drawing comparisons to Porcupine Tree, Marillion, Dream Theater and Riverside.
Following the album release the two set about forming a live band to perform the album and, after a few personnel changes, DeeExpus performed Halfway Home live for the first time in January 2009. Only one gig later the band was off to Poland to record a live DVD, and “Far From Home” was released through Metalmind in June 2009. DeeExpus continued to perform throughout the UK and were delighted to receive the accolade of Best New Band of 2009 from the UK based Classic Rock Society.
Numerous gigs followed including the Cambridge Rock Festival and the prestigious “Church of Prog” Sunday morning slot at RosFest 2010 in Gettysburg, USA. On their return from RosFest Andy and Tony set about working on album number two, entitled “The King of Number 33”. The title track being an epic tale based on the true story of a local folklore figure from Tony’s formative years, a tale to which Andy has applied his musical nous to paint the perfect backdrop on which Tony can recount this saga.
The album was released on 5th December 2011 through Racket Records and features alongside Tony and Andy; John Dawson on Bass guitar, Mark Kelly on Keyboards and Henry Rogers on Drums. Steve Wright makes the lineup complete when DeeExpus hit the road in 2012.
DeeExpus second studio album is a somewhat belated follow-up to 2008's well received Half Way Home that hinted at a bright future for the band that was initially built around the duo of multi instrumentalist Andy Ditchfield and vocalist Tony Wright. King Of Number 33 adds Marillion's Mark Kelly to the line-up that is completed by the rhythm section of bassist John Dawson and Henry Rogers on drums together with second guitarist Steve Wright. For Kelly this is something of a departure in that, unlike his fellow band mates, he has only rarely ventured outside of the mother-group that is Marillion. Musically however the collaboration with DeeExpus ticks all of the right boxes for with their warm, accessible and highly sophisticated prog sound very much in step with some of Marillion's mid-period highlights.
"Me And My Downfall" is a contemporary and dramatic PT inspired riff-driven affair that makes for a memorable opening with Ditchfield's solo giving way to the widdly synth section that will have you joyously digging out Script For A Jester's Tear. Some brooding piano work and conventional synth patterns keep Kelly fully employed on the impressive "Maybe September" with Wright's soaring vocals conveying both emotion and warmth. "Marty and the Magic Moose" is a quirky instrumental and 80's pop pin-up Nik Kershaw turns up to add his voice on the catchy "Memo" that brings the album to a satisfying conclusion.
All of this aside the centrepiece of it all is the twenty seven minute title track that is broken down into six individually titled parts that has the protagonist battling psychiatric problems, based on a local eccentric from Wright's childhood. An exquisitely crafted and well paced sweeping epic that simply engulfs the senses this is a modern prog masterpiece to be cherished.
A fantastic return from DeeExpus and with Kelly on board their profile should be raised considerably, in turn helping the album be appreciated by a wider audience.