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DeeExpus - The King of Number 33 CD (album) cover

THE KING OF NUMBER 33

DeeExpus

Heavy Prog


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5 stars This is DeeExpus' second studio album, following on from 2008's well received "Half Way Home". Since then the band have had a change of bass player with John Dawson replacing Ian Raine and Marillion's Mark Kelly replacing Marc Joliffe on keyboards. "The King Of Number 33" seems to have been a long time coming, there was talk of it's release in the Spring of 2010 in time for the band's performance at RoSfest, however December 2011 sees the eventual release. The album kicks off with the cracking "Me And My Downfall" a track which was probably the first one written for the album, I saw the band perform it in September 2009 when the band supported Touchstone in South Yorkshire.

The second track "Maybe September" is a touching song in memory of Edward Michael Wright, no doubt a relative of band members Tony and Steve Wright, it starts off at a slower pace with plenty of piano and some cello thrown in before it becomes more upbeat with fine keyboard and guitar solos. "Marty And The Magic Moose" is a memorable and upbeat instrumental written by Andy Ditchfield, who plays all the lead guitars and keyboards on the track. This leads to the 26 minute epic song on the album "The King Of Number 33" telling the story of character with psychiatric problems from Tony Wright's hometown in Weardale in the NE of England. The final track "Memo" features 80s pop star Nik Kershaw on vocals and catchiness of the song suits Kershaw's style down to the ground.

"Half Way Home" was a fine album but I think "The King" is superior with better, more consistent quality of song writing and musicianship. Mark Kelly's keyboard work improves the sound greatly. Andy Ditchfield's versatility gives the band two keyboard players and two lead guitarists which gives them a rich and varied sound. I recommend this album it's worth four and a half stars, no problem.

Report this review (#588854)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars What a suprise! After two heavy prog cuts, we come to a great song: 'Marty and the Magic Moose' seems like a Mike Oldfield 80's instrumental song with some heavy influences (Perhaps, 'Shadow on the Wall' of album Crises). This Oldfield style can be appreciated in clean guitar work.

The epic 'The King of Number 33' starts with spectacular atmospheric sounds (part I), in the line of Oldfield or Jarre and follows in a hard-rocker explosion of synth, drums and guitar work. The duel of the synth and the guitar (part II) is fantastic. The vocals are very clean melodic and melancholic (part III). The track continues with de duel of synth and guitar (part IV), the highlight of the album, by Andy Ditchfield with all leading guitars + keyboards. Part V is a more accesible and poppy track with the brilliance of Wright vocals. This epic finishes with the return of heavy prog style, and some lyric reprises.

The album ends with 'Memo' This song could be the hit of the album. Accesible, contemporary, 'Memo' has, in addition, some instrumental good work. In the initial of this cut, we can see, again, Oldfield style.

(+) The variety of sounds and styles (-) No negative things in this work. But I think vocals could be improved. For me, are a little bit flat

Report this review (#600359)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars While emanating from the heavier, more technically-oriented side of progressive rock, I am truly impressed with the production, the never boring yet never over-the-top or in-your-face song development. The instrumentalists are all EXCELLENT, the vocals are strong, the song topic choices are interesting and engaging. My only criticism is that there isn't really anything so very new, innovative, or mind-blowing exciting here. What is here is a pretty near-flawless album of top notch prog rock. I am reminded of a heavier version of BIG BIG TRAIN. Thank you for your admirable restraint and highly enjoyable start-to-finish listening experience. Faves: the cute/clever "Marty and the Magic Moose" (8/10), the Tears for Fears-tinged "The Physician and the Traitor" (8/10), the excellent bass playing on the album's climax, "Rex Mortuus Est" (8/10), the electronica and crisp, clear drumming of "Memo" (8/10). A nice addition to any prog lover's music collection. Solid four stars.
Report this review (#632966)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars DeeExpus were formed in 2007 when guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Andy Ditchfield met up with singer Tony Wright, and they decided to put a band together. However, they found that they worked together really well and instead of forming a complete outfit just brought in a few guests to assist and 'Halfway Home' was released in 2008. A band was formed for the live shows, and then in 2010 it was time to start on the second album. It was about this time that Mark Kelly became involved and joined the band as a full member ? of all of the Marillion guys it is Mark that has produced the least amount in terms of additional projects, so it shows that he was keen on what he had heard. His keyboards are also much more than just an added extra, as his runs and interplay on "Maybe September" reminded me why I first fell in love with his other band thirty years ago. The line-up here has been completed by John Dawson on bass and Henry Rogers on drums (while none other than Nik Kershaw provides lead vocals on 'The Memo').

This certainly doesn't sound like only the second album, as it is a hugely polished effort moving from riffs to gentle piano and through a gamut of neo-progtastic moves. There are areas of extreme delicacy such as gentle piano, fretless bass and acoustic 12-string on "Marty and the Magic Moose" before Andy let's fly with a great guitar solo and the band brings it all together. If you enjoy bands like IQ and Galahad, then this is something you need to seek out. Mark has had to take a temporary break from the band so he has been replaced for live work by Mike Varty (Credo/Landmarq/ Shadowland) as they support Marillion on their UK tour. If you have yet to come across these guys then you need to go to www.deeexpus.com to find out more.

Report this review (#821799)
Posted Sunday, September 16, 2012 | Review Permalink
tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am glad my sights finally landed on this sophomore release amid a few initial bumble bee buzzes that produced no honey, then taking the leap to pursue and purchase this lovely disc after listening to the live 'Memo' clip on their website. This clicker was the presence of Henry Rogers, a stupendous drummer who first caught my attention with fellow British band Touchstone. This guy plays meaty, beefy fills that hint at past greats like Bonham and Taylor, propelling the harder-edged music with great aplomb, a very manly approach to the drums in a style that immediately grabs one's attention.

'Me and My Downfall' kicks this one right into immediate overdrive, no quarter asked or given. Stubborn, swift and solid like some of the recent PTree material where sweeping keys and menacing guitar snarls, booming bass and the Rogers steamroller elevate the tune to glorious heights, with dejected RPWL's Yogi Lang-like vocals providing the brisk doom and gloom. The dead simple mid-section has the burnt smell of oily turbo charged riffs that can only induce a smile from the most jaded listener. This rocks and rocks well. What an opening salvo!

'Maybe September' is dripping in opaque synth and cello-driven melancholia, intensely autumnal and desolately beautiful. Upon repeated listens, this piece really exudes an incredible emotional intensity, a trembling Tony Wright vocal full of pain and delicate agony with Marillion's Mark Kelly providing that special classic touch. Take notice of the synth work here, a pure ivory blitzkrieg that is only overtaken by a thrilling axe solo from Ditchfield. Rogers batters this whole into a massive orgasmic oblivion. Phew!

Jude Kelly (Mark's little daughter?) introduces this monster highlight, with initial techno-like keys evolving into a crunch-guitar riff that explodes into this unreal main melody. Some kind of instrumental multi-tasking on the sensational 'Marty and the Magic Goose' from the supremely talented Andy Ditchfield who supplies all the swirling guitar, sinuous bass and whopping keys while Rogers keeps the rock steady. The atmosphere is chaotically controlled within a tight sonic context and its just plain superb.

The bulk of this stupendous album relies on the multi-part epic suite that gives us the title, a colossal adventure that scans the entire spectrum of modern prog, littered with achingly beautiful melodies, deadly choruses, scintillating solos and tremendous vocal work from Tony and Steve Wright, together with Ditchfield all give the arrangements a profound sense of accomplishment. Needless to say once again, Rogers pummels with unabashed gusto, confirming his obvious sense of propulsion.

The classic 'Memo' finishes this one off with utter gusto, a brilliant and memorable tune that sticks in your mind long after consumption. Rogers ripples intensely, the bass burping along, content while the melody just dredges intensely into the psyche. A perfect example of why Henry Rogers is such a kick-ass drummer, just check out and contemplate in awe his work , a shivering experience to say the least! Real drumming! Moving impeccably from hard-driving to even more majestic propulsion , maintaining that solid foundation of sound is a voice to be heard on your speakers. Play it loud?. Astonishingly, the once famed pop singer Nik Kershaw handles the vocal (the man always had a definite prog tendency) and this majestic and memorable track puts an end to an entirely satisfying sonic adventure. Fans of melodic and concussive prog such as Porcupine Tree, Haken, Galahad, RPWL, Sylvan, Silhouette, Mystery, Nine Stones Close etc'will lap this stuff up with utter glee.

A do-not-miss 2012 release.

5 stunning royal messages

Report this review (#842822)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Heavy Prog Team
4 stars A delightful prog rock offering, DeeExpus' "King of Number 33" continues the legacy of the band following the very interesting debut from 2008. The most important change is the addition of Mark Kelly on keyboards and his importance on the band's sound is pretty obvious on the tracks where he contributes.

Although Steve Wright appears on the line-up of that year, he only guests at the album, while the song-writing force continues to be the duo of Tony Wright and Andy Ditchfield. Half of the album is reserved for the 26+ minute, 6-part, title-track which shows some of the song-writing skills (and reveals some of the influences) of Ditchfield. With the exception of the Spock's Beard-influenced, "sweet"-sounding refrain whose melody returns from time to time, the rest of the song is a solid heavy piece with adequate variety on the mellower parts and doses of Neo-prog, resembling Haken and Dream Theater, boosted by the Marillion-esque keyboards of Kelly. The latter's high-point is definitely "Maybe September" where after a (rather long but beautiful) melodic introduction, the song is lifted to unimaginable heights with a powerful Neo-keyboard passage that carries it safely to conclusion. The follow-up from the instrumental "Marty and the Magic Moose" is simply stunning and along with the title track constitute a very strong middle section. Although not poor, the opening, Porcupine Tree-driven, rather simplistic, "Me and my Downfall" fails to impress, except for the instrumental passage following the second refrain, and the same applies to the (rather commercial-sounding) closing "Memo" with Nik Kershaw on lead vocals, who, nevertheless, gives a strong melodic performance.

The influence from Marillion is more than welcome in an album that balances very successfully on the heavy prog side (mostly influenced by later Porcupine Tree) and the Neo-prog injected by Kelly. The production is powerful and the whole package rather professional. Despite the small deviations from quality, the album as a whole leaves a feeling of satisfaction to the listener and flows freely, deserving not less than 3.5 stars (rounded upwards in this case).

Best moments: Maybe September, Marty and the Magic Moose, Accession

Report this review (#1128642)
Posted Saturday, February 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Since I went to my first prog fest outside Pittsburgh a few years ago, I've gone back and forth about whether to try and get up to speed on bands playing at a festival before I actually go. I've both gone in completely cold and completely prepared and both approaches have their plusses and minuses. What I've settled into is looking at how deep a particular band's catalog is and, if they've got more than a couple of albums, pick one up ahead of time to try and get my feet wet (aurally speaking, of course).

So why, you might ask, did I pick up the new album from this year's ROSFest lead off hitters DeeExpus (don't ask what the name means ? I have no clue), given that it's only the band's second? A good question with an easy two-word answer: Mark Kelly. As a long-time Marillion fan and keyboard player Kelly's one of my musical heroes (and a nice bloke, to boot). I thought it would be interesting to hear him back in the overtly neo-proggy widdly-twiddly keyboard role.

That being said, the main man behind DeeExpus is Andy Ditchfield ,who made a brief appearance at ROSFest last year during Tinyfish's excellent Friday night set. Ditchfield is the main writer for the band, in addition to handling guitar, vocals, and keyboards on most tracks. Kelly throws in on a few of tracks, most notably the 25-minute title track. Regardless of who's playing what at any given time, the tracks hum with strong melodic bits that define neo-prog (for better or worse).

They also reflect a trend in recent years of neo band leaning more and more on hard-rock style riffing. "Me and My Downfall," the lead off track here shows that particularly well. I don't know if this is just a natural progression or a change that's been brought about by the success of heavier prog bands like Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and Opeth (that's my guess). Regardless, DeeExpus never slips over into too much balls 'n chunk, which I appreciate.

As I mentioned, the centerpiece of the album is the epic "King of Number 33," which is the best long-form prog tune I've heard since The Tangent's "In Earnest" back in the last decade. In this case, the song tells the story (inspired by actual events, I believe) in which "Number 33" is a bus and the "King" is a mentally ill man who, after years of being a mostly harmless oddity, explodes into some kind of violence (just what is left quite vague). Maybe it's because I have a particular affection for epics about lost souls ("In Earnest" certainly qualifies as well), but the lyrics really grab me in a way that lots of others don't.

Report this review (#1453703)
Posted Sunday, August 16, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars My Highlights: - Me and my downfall - Marty and the magic moose - King of number 33 (I thru VI)

This is the follow up album for the band's (project...) acclaimed debut Half Way Home (2008). Make no mistake, this is heavy prog with lots of power riffs and galloping drumming, however for this release Ditchfield (the brain genius behind this masterpiece) and Wright join forces with no other that Marillion's own Mark Kelly, and there's where Heavy prog meets Neo Prog, and the result is simply fantastic, heavy but melodic, superior and very memorable. Me and my downfall opens the album with a clear message...we are here to rock and rock good, presenting the what the storyline is about and kind of what to expect for the next 50 plus minutes. Maybe September along with the last track Memo stands maybe as the weak spot of the musical experience, still good but forgettable at times, but not for long because the instrumental Marty and the Magic Moose catches the listener attention once again and won't let it go for the rest of the musical experience.

But this album is all about the title track, The King of Number 33, a suite with amazing movements where everyone on the band has the chance to display all their virtuosity and power, from the beautiful (and sometimes angry and depressed) vocal harmonies, the incredible guitar riffing and song-along licks that often battle with Kelly's keyboard precious madness, and the "all tempo" performance of the rhythmic section. Truly a work of genius, definitely a heavy prog masterpiece that should please any Porcupine Tree, IQ, Spock's Beard and Marillion fan. This suite has everything that a prog epic should have, no questions about it... and the lyrical content, the storytelling behind the already reviewed musical performance... a boy and his obsession with buses and the era of Kings and Queens of England who gets on the Number 33 (city bus) and basically stays there like forever, people goes in and out (his court) while he commands them to pay allegiance to the king and take a seat... "I'm the king of everything my tired eyes can see, I'll permit your ride just one more time, and suggest you take your seat" This is definitely an album that you have to experience by yourself and enjoy its full musical and lyrical content, guaranteed to get hooked!

Report this review (#2594116)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2021 | Review Permalink

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