As befits its name, Germ Studies for Guzheng and DX7 is a series of 198 miniatures, most ending in mere seconds, improvised on guzheng and the DX7 synthesizer. Partly intended, it seems, as a lark—the two-disc set comes with humorous illustrations of each germ, drawn by fellow musicians—the music still holds attention as an intriguing listening experience. It helps that the musicians are so talented: Clare Cooper is well recognized for her guzheng and harp playing, while Chris Abrahams is the Necks’ accomplished pianist. Abrahams makes the bigger jump, stepping outside a trio known for its acoustic instrumentation and extremely long form to play a dated electronic synthesizer in order to create microscopic pieces.

Sonically, the DX7 is an instrument surprisingly compatible with the ancient guzheng. There is a similarity in timbre qualities between the two instruments, which provides a real sense of interaction between the sound elements. Even when the DX7 gets into its more recognizable high-frequency squibbling and squelching, it seems of a piece with Cooper’s sympathetic playing. And while the pieces are conceived as miniatures, there’s a strong conceptual flow throughout the two-CD series of unusual but engaging sonic studies. In the midst of the music, one loses track of the oddness of the whole event and finds oneself simply enjoying the fascinating sounds that are revealed.