Phill Niblock Touch Strings

At 77, Phill Niblock can claim a three-year head start on Steve Reich for the non-existent title of Grand Old Man of NYC Minimalism. Touch Strings, his fourth release on Touch since 2000, gives its first hour over to "Stosspeng," an e-bow piece for guitar and bass played by Robert Poss and Susan Stengler (from '80s NYC noise rock outfit Band of Susans). Its slowly evolving drift of high and low tones gently intertwines, appropriately enough, like some auditory yin yang, balancing harmony against tension. A less controlled, more dynamic piece dominates the last 50 minutes of disc two. "One Large Rose" features a score played live by the Nelly Boyd Ensemble on piano, violin, acoustic bass and guitar. A drone was performed four times and all four takes are layered atop each other without edits. The piece is incredibly alive and astonishingly compact, given 16 instruments had been accumulated once the track was assembled. It most closely resembles Tony Conrad's violin pieces, though with the harmonics polished to a smoother finish. (Touch)