DeeExpus Project - 'Half Way Home' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 01, 2010    
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Promising debut album.

DeeExpus Project from the North East of England to that list. Essentially a duo made up of multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Andy Ditchfield and vocalist Tony Wright, they supplemented the team by bringing in support in the shape of guitarists Phil Sloane and Steve Wright, Mike Henderson (keyboards) and Ian Raine (bass) for the recording, although I think Ditchfield handled the vast majority of the instrumentation. It should be mentioned that subsequent to the release of the album they’ve actually recruited a full band and intend to tour.

Now, I do have one small criticism of an otherwise very pleasing album, and that’s Tony Wright’s vocals, which at times come across as a little thin and lacking in dynamics. There were times when I longed to hear certain sections sung by Gary Chandler (Jadis) or Steve Thorne, both of whom I think would really nail this material.

If I were categorising this album I’d have to tend towards the neo-Prog of IQ, Jadis and the likes albeit with heavier passages than those bands are known for. It’s not pure Prog because there is a greater diversity to it than that, with some Pop influences shining through at various times during the course of the seven tracks. Musically I am really impressed and when the vocals are multi-layered it is a treat and it’s a shame that those solo vocal passages don’t quite carry the same impetus.

The album opens with ‘Greed’ that has a nice, chunky guitar riff and processed vocals. The opening sequence brings Porcupine Tree to mind although the chorus changes tack, whilst Sloane’s guitar solo is a delight.

Recanting slightly on my earlier comment about Wright’s vocals, on ‘Pointless Child’ his style fits the song to a tee. It starts slowly and builds pleasingly. It also has a decent chorus and pleasant refrain. I even like the processed drums that appear occasionally. I am to an extent reminded of Touchstone, albeit when I saw them perform without their female singer.

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‘PTtee’ is apparently meant as homage to Porcupine Tree, which I can see in part. It opens with some Jon Petrucci-esque bursts of guitar that becomes increasingly prominent until it takes over. The change into a piano lead chorus is exquisite. ‘One Eight’ is a fine song, it builds delightfully from acoustic beginnings into a monster ending where Phil Sloane’s guitar is very much to the fore. ‘One Day’ is a short piano and acoustic guitar piece that you wish went on a bit longer, but to all intents and purposes it acts as an intro to ‘Seven Nights’ with its strong beat and understated Organ sound underpinning beautifully. I am reminded of Paul Carrack on the verses and the simple chorus is effective. The song then takes on more neo-Prog sensibilities.

The title track closes the album and is the longest song on the disc at a fraction over 17 minutes and it does feel a little over-extended. It starts strongly with a delicious heavy guitar, and there are further splendid heavy sections elsewhere in the track, but this would be the one track I really don’t think the vocals are equal to the music. The middle section is a bit drawn out, although the piano is beautiful. In summary they could have edited this down and had a really spanking song instead of one that’s merely good.

As debuts go this is a fine album, watch out for DeeExpus, there’s real promise here.

Gary Marshall

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