Ex-Vagus is a French five-piece formation founded in 1995. Their musical goal was to blend progressive rock and French vocals. The information about Ex-Vagus says: ‘the band joins together five authors and creators in a permanent creativity, having the systematic association of the visual world with the auditive world as a ‘Leitmotiv’. Ex-Vagus concretized this artistic line by creating two rock operas: Par Dela Les Legendes (2000) and Seconde Lumière (2004), calling upon original lights creations, a particular scenery and external actors.
Ex-Vagus produced one demo-CD and five CD’s and was support-act for great prog rock bands like Ange, Barclay James Harvest, Focus, The Watch and Ars Nova. About their previous effort Ames Vagabondes (2006), I wrote for the paper version of Background Magazine that it sounds in the vein of their rock operas with often dramatic music featuring strong, typical French theatrical vocals, sumptuous keyboard layers and lots of wonderful, often sensitive electric guitar solos. Well, I can write the same about their new album Dream Object 5, but there’s one big difference: the vocals are sung in English. Pretty well done, but with an obvious French accent. In my opinion, the reason for changing from French to English is to get a better understanding of the interesting lyrics about serious subjects like sea pollution, corrupted power and the Indian genocide. The band welcomes us on their musical trip. During this trip we can enjoy seven compositions delivering a lot of tension and different atmospheres, topped by inspired vocals giving an extra dimension to the often dramatic music. In fact, Ex-Vagus’s music sounds as a dark modern rock opera with many inventive musical ideas and excellent work on keyboards and guitars.
In Trash Vortex we hear exciting interplay between a distorted electric guitar and organ. Lostaway has a strong build-up from dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards to a compelling atmosphere with tight drums and a powerful guitar solo. There’s an ominous atmosphere with an aggressive undertone in The Conqueror’s Weapons and Some Fallen Dust delivers a mellow to slow rhythm with a fiery guitar solo and slow synthesizer runs. Stravinsky’s Gondola has great dynamics and a sensational break with heavy guitar riffs and exciting sumptuous keyboards and we hear cascades of shifting moods in the very dramatic and cynical Once Upon A Dime.
The long final composition The Clay Spirits is in the great tradition of the early Marillion epic compositions featuring a lot of tension between the dreamy and bombastic parts, moving electric guitar, lush keyboards, dramatic vocals and a compelling ending delivering emotional vocals and howling guitar runs. Goosebumps! I must conclude that Dream Object 5 is Ex-Vagus’s best effort so far, but you have to be up to the very special, slightly theatrical vocals with a strong French accent. However, visiting the website and listening to the MP3-files is nowadays a perfect way to make up your mind about those elements. Good luck!
***+ Erik Neuteboom (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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