Andy West "Rama 1"
(Magna Carta 2002, MA-9061-2)
From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
Andy West, former bassist for The Dixie Dregs, heads out here on his own, backed by a Magna Carta all-star cast which includes Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Kit Watkins of Happy the Man, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Keneally, to name just a few.
Rama 1 is exactly what you might expect from such a collection of players as this: heavy, (mostly) instrumental progressive/fusion style stuff, with touches of metal. But while all the talent makes for some top-notch playing, it canít hide the fact that the songs on Rama 1 donít really grab you. The album just doesnít have much to set it apart from the plethora of other similar releases that have come out over the last few years in this vein of music.
Thatís not to say that this is a bad album. Far from it. Rama 1 certainly has some decently heavy grooves to offer. Herd Instinct, for example, sports a heady, urgent rhythm, while Memento Mori has a tasty Middle Eastern flavor about it. The performances are exquisite throughout, but it all kind of amounts to something technically satisfying, but lacking in character.
For more information you can visit the Magna Carta web site at: http://www.magnacarta.net.
Contact via snail mail c/o Magna Carta; PMB 1820; 208 E. 51st St; New York, NY 10022-6500.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald