Following up Flesh Eating Ants' 2002 debut, an extraordinary double LP re-issue of Edward Ka-Spel's "Tanith and the Lion Tree", are a trio of cEvin Key related projects.  Each has received the same aesthetically pleasing transition to analog:  the audio direct-metal mastered to colorful 220 gram audiophile vinyl and the artwork altered and expanded to gatefold sleeves.  Knowing those specs and just simply inspecting them you know it doesn't get any better than this.  Each is well worth the $23 apiece ...

Involution "Involution" Flesh Eating Ants Records FEA-01 (54:30)

323.3 Khz (4:13)
Mow (3:44)
Clairaudience (4:48)
Coin (3:06)
Centerside (4:00)
Trapheezeeoh (3:43)
Smack My Birch (4:29)

Tonto, King of Mango Land (4:17)
Acid Clambake (7:02)
Blind Timefold (3:29)
Licked On By Chicken (4:08)
Habeeb Hair (3:05)
Sickmansucker (4:13)

"Involution" was a 1997-98 collaboration with Bree and Paris (Christian Death, Shadow Project, EXP), the last to be recorded at the then Vancouver based Subconscious Studios.  Key apparently served primarily as producer rather than a composer of the album.  Regardless, it certainly sounds like Key inspired minimalism as abstract electronics tangle with oddly timed blips and beats.  As it did then, this disc still strikes me the same.  Several tracks seem underdeveloped and/or lacking in depth, similar to Key's 1997 solo debut "Music For Cats".  Each side has two definite standouts.  "Clairaudience" kicks into gear in the third minute as noise passes the passive beat like motorcycles on a highway constructed of synth pads.  "Trapheezeeoh" nonchalantly switches from pleasant future funk to theremin ambiance and back, the latter third of the track stripped down to a taut bass figure.  "Acid Clambake" is the lengthiest track at seven minutes and probably the moodiest.  It begins and ends noisily but the mid-section eventually relies solely on the gentle strains of strings and tiny twirls of sound.  "Blind Timefold" has Key's signature subtle melodies flirting about in the background and that makes the track.  Fortunately the CD's hideous artwork has been cast aside in favor of new collages and an alluring masked and silver body painted female on the back.  This one is limited to 200 hand numbered copies and the vinyl is translucent purple with light pink streaks ...

Download "III Steps Forward" Subconscious Communications sub15 / Flesh Eating Ants Records FEA-02 (44:59)

Sticky Glandstin (3:14)
Dakota (4:30)
Resilient (3:38)
The Itch of Trepanning (2:47)
Ratail Comb (3:58)
Manmade (4:02)

Nor (5:59)
Walking, Talking (3:59)
D.O.G. (4:14)
P.U.P. (4:27)
Bolantinis Pivoli (1:47)

"III Steps Forward" was volume three of last year's Subconscious Communications "From the Vault" limited series.  Key and Phil Western compiled unused and re-worked tracks spanning 1996's "III" to 2000's "Effector" and beyond.  Stylistically they combine the harder edged rhythms of pre and post-III work with touches of III's sleek ambiance and minimalism.  "Sticky Glandstin" and "Walking, Talking" splatter percussion, sound effects, squelches and wide-sweeping synth waves to great effect.  They're great reminders that no one else sounds quite like Download.  "Dakota" methodically pumps along until it unexpectedly gives way to lush ambient billows.  "Resilient" and "Ratail Comb" are lesser tracks more concerned with battling beats than progressive song structures.  "The Itch of Trepanning" boldly staggers a mid-tempo groove while the driving bass line of "Manmade" is laced with Download style drum 'n bass.  "Nor" is the lengthiest at six minutes and most atmospheric of the bunch, the rhythm taking a back seat to thick whorls of synth pad and a distant animal howl.  It's a showcase in Download's gentler side and would have fit in nicely on "III".  "D.O.G." and "P.U.P." are loving tributes to Key's dearly departed cats, both tracks tamer and imbued with an appropriate sense of sadness.  After some silence the brief but melodically cute hidden track "Bolantinis Pivoli" pleasantly caps the album off.  And that's just what it feels like, an album, despite being a compilation.  It's the perfect companion to "III" and "Effector".  New and improved artwork here as well with photos of a Buchla Electric Music Box modular synthesizer, presumably Download's and presumably used on these tracks.  This one is limited to 420 hand numbered copies and the vinyl is translucent blue with dark purple streaks ...

PlatEAU "Iceolator" Subconscious Communications sub24 / Flesh Eating Ants Records FEA-03 (41:50)

Iceolator (4:07)
Champagne (4:23)
Manali Cream (2:18)
Peacemaker (2:41)
Great White Shark (3:42)
Buddahs Sister (3:41)

Nevilles Haze (3:43)
Sunburst (3:52)
Kali Mist (6:08)
Greenguy (4:42)
Sweet Tooth (2:33)

PlatEAU is Key and Western's project geared more towards the chill out scenes of the dance floor or grass bars.  Over the years the clear cut line between it and Download has been smudged some, but generally PlatEAU tracks are centered around hypnotic minimal grooves.  "Iceolator" was volume four of "From the Vault" and it collects outtakes from 1996 to 2001.  It was just begging for a vinyl release - the first PlatEAU to hit vinyl since 1997's "Dutch Flowers".  The album is split about half and half between ethereal and melodic tracks and harder and weirder tracks.  The severe rhythms of " Manali Cream", "Peacemaker", " Great White Shark", "Sunburst" and "Sweet Tooth" might harsh your mellow some man.  But then again, maybe not, depending on how much you've already smoked.  My favorites are the title track, "Champagne" and "Nevilles Haze" which have milder rhythms and are sprinkled with pretty sound potpourri.  And "Buddahs Sister", "Kali Mist" and "Greenguy" are on the lighter side too, lighting up a variety of ganja-toking trances.  Dance or chill, it's up to you.  I've happily done both.  This one is limited to 420 hand numbered copies and the vinyl is white with light green streaks ...

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