Selected Press Clippings

Alex RossThe Rest is Noise (January 24, 2016):

"The Spektral Quartet, young radicals of Chicago, have a delirious new record called Serious Business, on the theme of comedy in music.  The central piece, Chris Fisher-Lochhead's Hack, is a knockout: instrumental reproductions/revampings of comedy routines by the likes of George Carlin, Robin Williams, Rodney Dangerfied, Richard Pryor, Sarah Silverman, and Dave Chappelle." [Link]

Corinna da Fonseca-WollheimNew York Times (June 30, 2015):

"There was no text at all in Christopher Fisher-Lochhead's new prosodia daseia.  Scored for solo trombone—Mr. Lang in a fiercely virtuosic performance—and singers, it pits an exhaustingly athletic instrumental line against smooth, glassy vocals that appear to grow out of the trombone's labors, subtly warping the distinction between effort and ease." [Link]

Maggie MolloySecond Inversion (February 8, 2016):

"The album ends with a performance of Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s “Hack,” a sprawling 22-part piece composed on the transcribed vocal deliveries of standup comics…It is sonic anarchy. “Hack” is an obstacle course of screeches, swoops, and sputters, breakneck tempos and unison outbursts, gauzy glissandi and meter changes. But for being a piece about comedy, it’s actually quite serious in scope and subject matter: it is an exploration into the music of American speech and the way that language, laughter, and music connects us all." [Link]

Beach Sloth (December 11, 2017):

Grant Wallace Band’s “By This Time Tomorrow” has instant classic written all over it, from the delicate melodies to the incredibly thoughtful storytelling. A richness defines the entire album, for the Grant Wallace Band chooses a wide number of styles ranging from indie rock to folk while embodying the best of the singer-songwriter tradition. Quite communal the entire album focuses on the concept of togetherness, of how people can be brought together to help get through the twists and turns life oftentimes brings. Reminiscent of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” the group takes the listener on an epic journey, exploring America’s geography and doing so with the utmost of grace. [Link]

Will Robin, Bandcamp Daily (July 24, 2015):

"[Grant Wallace Band] didn’t intend to form as a quasi-bluegrass project, instead envisioning something closer to a jazz trio that would build from notated sketches and lead sheets to fleshed-out songs. 'Hengs' started off with an initial compositional framework upon which the musicians improvised in rehearsal. 'The bluegrass thing happened because we learned we loved singing together in three parts,' Gullickson said, 'and because we kept getting gigs at places with no piano, so we started using me more as a guitarist.' The success of those three-part vocals is audible in 'Hengs,' which concludes with a seemingly ceaseless reiteration of the phrase 'Dead man walking,' in full-bodied harmony over an instrumental freakout." [Link]

Dan ViscontiNewMusicBox (December 3, 2013):

"Chris Fisher-Lochhead's Dig Absolutely (2010) likewise opens with an interlocking network of glissandi...Straining and wailing with the inflections of pop vocalism, the piece strikes an enchanting balance between aspects of vernacular expression and contemporary experimental music.  For one thing, Fisher-Lochhead writes some incredibly specific and constantly varied rhythms, giving the whole affair a sense of improvisatory looseness more characteristic of roadhouse performance than the concert hall." [Link]

Daniel SchreinerI Care If You Listen (May 17, 2019):

“By contrast, Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s Chroma features two saxophones moving in similar, yet independent paths. Although both instruments engage in the same musical vocabulary of microtones, fluttering tremolos, and faint vocalizations, they trace unhurried circles around each other, colliding like drifting space objects. An intriguing juxtaposition of placid textures with dissonant harmonies, Chroma is SaxoVoce’s most magical and otherworldly moment.” [Link]

Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard International (September 11, 2014)

"[T]he three members of the Grant Wallace Band sing, play instruments, and compose. Ben Hjertmann’s light, rosy tenor fuses appealingly with Luke Gullickson’s piano lines and Chris Fisher-Lochhead’s viola. The skeletal hybrid has just a whiff of some of the folk-oriented vocals popularized decades ago like the Kingston Trio or the Limelighters, but with subtle harmonic stings, especially from Fisher-Lochhead’s wiry viola, that remind you it’s 50 years later." [Link]

Aaron Holloway-NahumI Care If You Listen (November 2, 2016)

"Chris Fisher-Lochhead's stutter-step the concept was an obvious and complete contrast...The extremely short and fragmentary music built up before starting to roll and kaleidoscope around in front of us...While it was unfailingly precise and broken in fragments that disassembled and (attempted to) reassemble throughout the piece, the musicians of Dal Niente brought Fisher-Lochhead's generosity of colour to the fore, with the horn player activating piano resonances and the music taking on the sense of a beautiful memory that one keeps almost remembering." [Link]

David WeiningerBoston Globe (March 11, 2016):

"Chris Fisher-Lochhead's Hack is an imaginative tour de force built on the composer's transcriptions of speech patterns of stand-up comedians, from Lenny Bruce to Rodney Dangerfield to Dave Chappelle." [Link]

Joan Arnau PàmiesFOCI Words (February 12, 2014):

"Listening to megrims feels as if two independent timelines were created.  On the one hand, there is the objectively measurable timeline, in which sounds change over time.  On the other hand, a separate, highly unique timeline—although I'd better call it area—that is perceived subjectively emerges from the whole experience, thus allowing me to go back and forth through my own memory of the piece while it is still running.  In other words, while the last miniature is still taking place, not only can I relate its sounds to those that happened earlier, but I also have enough mental space to delight in the beauty of the present moment—this I find remarkable." [Link]

Wynne DelacomaChicago Classical Review (October 27, 2015)

"In its songs the Grant Wallace Band looks at life with a gimlet eye.  Their slightly off-center harmonies and minor keys hinted that simple pleasures like biking to a bridge or watching plums fall into a box may not be as innocent as they seem.  Amid such company, even sunny Hollywood Technicolor seems faintly sinister." [Link]

Peter MargasakChicago Reader (January 20, 2016):

"Hack by Fisher-Lochhead borrows many of its rhythms and pitch relationships from meticulous transcriptions of bits by famous stand-up comedians...the composer gives the strange shapes that result a dazzling harmonic grandeur." [Link]

John Y. LawrenceChicago Classical Review (Feburary 1, 2016)

"[The premise of Hack] could have been mere gimmickry, but Fisher-Lochhead used his transcription method to produce music that is truly speechlike.  And even more importantly, he captured the individual character of the various comedians in his music, all of which the quartet conveyed well.  There were spiritual qualities in the portrait of Richard Pryor, and hints of a fiddle reel in the music depicting Ms. Pat." [Link]

Steve SmithNew York Times (December 18, 2012):

"Grant Wallace Band, a quirky trio of conservatory-trained composers, followed with spidery original bluegrass songs, featuring ambiguous harmonies and high-lonesome yelps." [Link]

John Von RheinChicago Tribune (January 27, 2016):

"The big piece on the disc, Chicago composer Chris Fisher-Lochhead's Hack (2015) is a suite in 22 sections — some as tiny as 9 or 10 seconds — made up of transcriptions of lines once uttered by 16 famous comedians ranging from Lenny Bruce to Robin Williams.  Fisher-Lochhead's rude scrunches, swoops, and sputters are cheerfully anarchic stuff." [Link]