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.
1. Me and My Downfall (7:09)
2. Maybe September (7:39)
3. Marty and the Magic Moose (4:41)
4. The King of Number 33 (26:47)
i - Pauper's Parade
ii - Accession
iii - The Physician and the Traitor
iv - The Hunt
v - Never Ending Elysium
vi - Rex Mortuus Est
5. Memo (7:28)