As its title implies, Touch Strings culls works for or involving string instruments. This two-CD set fits squarely in Phill Niblock's œuvre: fans will not be surprised (or disappointed), and detractors will not be changing their minds. There are at least two ways to experience Niblock's music. One is to stick to the surface and find in his lengthy drones ("Stosspeng" is a full hour long) a calm, static, introspective music that can provide the ultimate background for meditation. The other is to turn up the volume and immerse yourself in it (no headphones though, never with Niblock) to explore his near-infinte world of incremental changes engineered through the use of quasi-unisons obtained from multiple octaves and multi-tracking near identical notes, and the flapping effects they produce. His soundworld is in constant flux -- a slow, hypnotic movement that happens as much within the listener as between the loudspeakers. Disc one is entirely devoted to "Stosspeng." Here, Niblock is using drone samples from Susan Stenger (guitar) and Robert Poss (bass) to build a very quiet and delicate one-hour piece ranking among his most enjoyable to simply listen to. Disc two features to shorter pieces: "Poure" (24 minutes) and "One Large Rose" (46 minutes). "Poure" is built from multi-tracked samples provided by cellist Arne Deforce. Here we have less flapping and more grating, as tones are separated enough to be clearly perceived as out of tune. The piece remains sedate and majestic, but its texture is unnerving and disquieting, awaiting a resolution that will never happen. "One Large Rose" takes a different path to reach a similar goal: The Nelly Boyd Ensemble (cello, piano strummed with nylon strings, violin, acoustic bass guitar strummed with nylon strings or e-bow) is heard performing a 45-minute score of microtones four times, each take having been recorded throughout, and each time the musicians playing a different set of microtones. Whereas the other tracks feature a lot of post-recording work (altering tones, layering, etc.), here Niblock limited his interventions to lining up the takes and mixing them to stereo. The piece starts rather angelic and very gradually builds up to a gritty form of atonality. Touch Strings is not what you would call an exciting listen, but Niblock's approach remains relevant, and there is an endearing clarity and simplicity to his artistic concepts.