Keyboardist David Franklin (Playing with Shadows) takes the listener on an unusual musical journey with this album. The instruments, textures and effects are a blend of impressions and harmonies. The material ranges from ballad-form songs to highly experimental pieces. A great deal of thought went into the contents of this album, and it compels the listener to do some thinking as well. That’s the “potential embrace”.

The album begins with “The Failed Experiment of Consciousness.” It combines sound FX, piano, and unusual guitar effects. It’s strangely magnetic and compelling, and a great introduction to the other material.  Track 2 “Calling” begins with a touch-tone telephone dial and ring tones. A piano and other instruments creep in with the ring tones. It creates a sense impending anticipation…maybe someone will answer the phone, but maybe not.

Piano dominates the next two tracks, “Shade and Shadow” and “Shade and Darkness.” Franklin emphasizes textures and rhythmic elements rather than melody and chords. Track 6 “Whirling” shifts to layers of synth chords that rise from a deep place that’s been hidden from view. Track 7 “Mourning in America” is a ballad-style piano song with a haunting melody. Track 8 “So Far Below” is an ethereal acoustic guitar piece. 

Track 9 “Swamps of Jersey (re-mix)” is a rhythmic piece with a sense of tribal solidarity. It’s followed by “Inbal’s Theme,” a sparse piece that centers on a plaintive melodic motif. At 7:07 minutes, it’s the longest track on the album. The patient iterations are strangely peaceful. Track 11 “Ambient Fog” is an ambient-space track that’s quiet and a little weird, like a musical brain massage.

One of the oddest songs is Track 12 “Piece for Vacuum and 3 Voices.” Yes, Franklin actually uses the sound of a vacuum cleaner as a sound FX. Voices and rhythmic elements add a medieval feeling (my cats didn’t care for it, though). Track 13 “RH Factor” returns to a more traditional song form with guitar, synth, and a baby’s cry. There’s a demonstration of skill at developing motifs and using them to evoke emotional impressions through sound. This type of composition continues in Track 14 “Quotes.” A pizzicato guitar riff repeats on different notes, woven together with longer tones and a muffled woman’s voice. On Track 15 “The Wildness,” bell tones accompany a man’s voice reading a poem about the temporary nature of human life and structures. The album ends with Track 16 “XaS10shl (existential)” a soft ambient-space song. A gentle synth melody that marches along with great determination.

Franklin includes both alternative and experimental tracks in this album. It’s an amazing CD for moments when inspiration is desired or necessary, like for overcoming writer’s block or trying to figure out how to deal with a complicated situation. The sheer unexpectedness of the experimental material pushes the listener outside of the box! Highly unusual and well worth a listen.

~review by Elizabeth Hazel

Artist: David Franklin
David Franklin 2017
16 tracks, 61 minutes
CD $22.05 (