David Franklin is a musical experimenter. First he recorded several folk-pop singer-songwriter albums, then a solo piano Christmas recording, then a mostly-instrumental avant-garde album, and then, most recently, a piano-and-acoustic-guitar new age CD with fretless-bassist-master Michael Manring on two-thirds of the tracks. That melodic album of gentle music but hot licks was embraced by the new age community and climbed high on the new age charts. Now Franklin is back with an album that returns to his avant-garde passions although mixed with both ambient and a few melodic new age tracks. It is an interesting mixture because all of these types of music fall loosely under the broad new age music umbrella these days.

Whereas some new age music is created to be consciousness-raising, this music is more consciousness-expanding, in all ways and directions, not just spiritualy-upwards, but perception-increasing. In the world of avant-garde experimentation (where pioneers explored silence or using a hammer on piano strings or cars driving by outside) Franklin fits right in because some of the tunes include sounds from a ringing telephone, a crying baby or a drone-like vacuum-cleaner. He also uses unusual tunings or plays an instrument in some strange way like when he plays just the bass notes on a harp guitar (some of the notes using a bow), or when he plays percussion on an Afruican udu and then records the sound backwards. The whole idea is to make and craft unusual sounds and then fit them into a musical recording in a way that may sound unusual but propels the music forward and takes the listener’s ear on a journey to a new place that the person might never go to if the sounds did not move the listener in a way that traditional musical notes would not.

But the rest of the album has other experimentation (like rubbing the strings of a guitar against a shelf) as well as more regular instrument performance on piano, guitar and synth. There are some pieces with pretty melodies, some ambient mood pieces, some very slow numbers, a few with wordless or can’t-quite-understand vocals in the background, and one short poetry recitation set to a singing bowl.

If you want to explore or immerse yourself in unusual sounds and rhythms, and be propelled along a highway with no road-signs, and feel like you are watching a French underground thriller film, then step right this way. It is a ride worth taking because it is not like your last or next listening experience. Your consciousness will thank you.