Boomkat Product Review:
His fourth release for the label, Touch Strings is another commanding body of drone works from Phill Niblock, stretching across two discs. The first CD is occupied by the hour-long, six-movement Stosspeng, a composition for electric guitars and basses with a little e-bow intervention to sustain solid tones to avoid any 'artificial' post-processing. The piece is performed by Susan Stenger and Robert Poss who take up a stereo channel each, sounding a chord of three semi-tone intervals in various combinations over a variety of different octaves. As you'd imagine, it's the intensity of the microtones and subtly fluctuating harmonics that gives the composition shape, and it's really something that demands devoted listening to yield the best results. Over on the second CD, the twenty-three minute cello and sine wave piece 'Poure' is first up, capturing thirty-two layers of organic, sustaining tones. There's a fairly subtle dissonance to the composition, which takes its roots in the notes A and D but preserves an atonal quality via Niblock's layered, minuscule deviations from perfect pitch. The remainder of the second disc is taken up by the five-part 'One Large Rose', arguably the most remarkable of the three works compiled here. This is a forty-six minute orchestral piece recorded with the Nelly Boyd Ensemble in real time. It took four uninterrupted takes to get the desired result, but the version that made it to the final release sounds absolutely magisterial, manifesting itself in a powerfully physical way through the speakers, smashing the most clangourously incompatible micro-intervals together. Immensely powerful stuff that makes most drone records sound like kids' stuff. Highly recommended.