Ray Keith

Alien Encounter

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Those who complained about the stagnant nature of drum'n'bass at the turn of the decade might well have been referring to this album by U.K. jungle mainstay Ray Keith. Gone is the exhilarating rush of the hyper-spastic beats and creeping evil of the bass bellows. In their place are mere retreads of well-worn breaks and grunting rumbles that sound obligatory, not menacing. Guest vocalist Lea sounds like a less-inspired Diane Charlemagne, her vocals merely filling the gaps between the instrumental rev-ups. Even the title seems as though it must have been used before. In fact, Alien Encounter was the name of an ambient electronic album from 1997. The lazily mixed bonus CD, the same 13 tracks, in the same order, just barely cut together as one ends and the next begins, is further proof of Keith's uninspired attitude. It is a letdown given his legacy as producer of such awe-inspiring cuts as "The Terrorist" and even the engaging production of his Contact album released just the previous year. The only meritorious track is the open-ended "Homicide," although it honestly sounds more like an older loop that was never assembled as a final track. A few Casio tones on "Trigger" will also catch your ear, but Lea's brutally flat vocals far outweigh the momentary lapse into cleverness.

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