top of page

“’Sunset with Pink Pastoral’, a road movie of an opera by…Christian Asplund.”  The Economist

“He is probably the most active composer/performer in Utah.  He has a voluminous output and is a major presence in the underground scene, performing his own works and improvisations.” Jason Hardink, 15 Bytes

 “In his own operas, Asplund gleefully mashed up classical, jazz, punk, and the avant with nonstandard scoring (e.g., viola, harmonium, and drums), sighing glissandi, motoric rhythms, and by commingling everyday speech with stylized singing.” The Stranger

“The second and most remarkable piece of the entire show was an improvisational piece by a group called UBA. This group, adorned by a pianist [Christian Asplund], a tuba front man and an electrical agent in the background mixing, came up with some of the most bizarrely beautiful jazz-esque noises I’ve ever heard – sounding like a mixture between Wolf Eyes and Thelonious Monk. It was remarkable, and the entire audience sat stunned in their seats as they left the stage.... It was a nice contrast to the following performance, a set of seven short pieces by an eccentrically aesthetically pleasing Christian Asplund.” Slug Magazine

 “Occasionally, a new work warrants devoting an entire article to its description and use for performance purposes.  My Private Body by Christian Asplund is just such a piece….  Asplund has drawn upon myriad creative ideas to produce a work of remarkable contrasts.  The compositional style is flexible, moving from moments of plaintive, almost sigh-like, gentle delicacy to driving, rocking rhythms and angular melodic lines that build to satisfying dramatic peaks….  Each of the five songs is unique in sound quality, text setting, mood, vocal-instrumental juxtaposition, and use of the voice….  Each song is deeply satisfying in its ability to bring those inner, secret thoughts into the open for public viewing without the feeling that the audience has intruded upon the singer’s privacy.  This significant work is a “must” for an advanced singer….  Don’t miss this one!”  Sharon Mabry, Journal of Singing

 “Christian Asplund[‘s] enormous talents as a composer and shaper of new sound are evident in his quartet, Brainstun, one of the vital-jazz hits of Bumbershoot.”  Peter Monaghan, Earshot Jazz

“Way back in the late ‘90s… Asplund was a foundation stone of Seattle’s avant-music scene.  Among other things, he was a cofounder… of the Seattle Experimental Opera, collaborating with his wife/librettist Lara Candland on a series of exquisite and inscrutable theater pieces.  And every once in a while, at some gig here or there, he’d burn a hole in your brain with a thrashing speed-metal improvisation—on his viola.” Seattle Weekly

"I find [Asplund's] music to be compelling, rhythmically toothy and just plain absolutely beautiful.  I believe that people will be listening to it hundreds of years from now, and that thought is electrifying."  Patrick Barber, The Rocket

“There’s a whole harmonic world in the cracks between the piano keys, and…four ‘Organisms’ by…Asplund is an ideal…introduction to the concept.” Seattle Weekly

This “pastoral” is much more organic in sensibility than traditional operas, however. [It] communicates the earthy, tangible sensation of the landscape that is an indelible stamp on the region so well that you can almost feel the desert sun beating down on you.… All these elements add to a vivid picture of the people who live in the Southwest.
Brian Staker, Salt Lake City Weekly (23 June 2005) (

From a review of the solo Koto CD, Decaying Bird on Sparkling Beatnik Records: “Through each one of these pieces, the listener discovers the multiple faces of this instrument still mysterious in the eyes of Occidentals like me: …technical discipline,… plaintive and melancholia-tainted lyricism,… stylistic flexibility,… improvisational capabilities…. All these aspects  meet in Asplund's superb "Decaying Bird", a composition of surprising depth. A lovely record that goes beyond the sole exotic ambience.”  François Couture, Délire Actuel 

“Christian Asplund’s half-hour Symphony No. 4 is cinematically episodic, a suite of “hooks,” a series of little obsessions, in each of which Asplund sets up ostinatos and keeps them percolating much longer than a less courageous composer—one with less faith in the intrinsic interest of his or her material—would dare to.  How good it is to hear musical ideas allowed to have their full say, especially in an age in which orchestral composers are preoccupied with “accessibility,” a doctrine that usually indicates an insulting distrust of a listener’s attention span.  Only composers whose aural imagination is less rich than Asplund (paper bags as percussion instruments!) have to worry about this.” Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

 “Scored for orchestra and percussion quartet, Asplund's 4th Symphony weaves a sound world that to my ears sews several threads of 20th century music together. From the hothouse late-German Romanticism heard in Korngold's Symphony in F-Sharp to the spiky and meticulously scored Sixth Symphony of Roger Sessions, the Asplund by turns grooves, lumbers and looms.” The Sonar Map, 17 February 1999.

“[His] music defies comparison; at times...searing, at others, droning, subdued and soothing.”  Chris Johnson, Pop

"Asplund has a great ear, both for combinations of timbre and for dramatic use of space and direction."  Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

"Proclaiming Asplund a 'decisive leader' with 'serious musical intent,' the selection panel was most impressed with the composer's ability to write music with ideas and in a diversity of styles." Artist Trust Journal

"Ethereal. . . mesmerizing."  John Atkins, The Stranger

“As for Asplund’s contribution…, mind-blowing begins to describe a show so fiery that for a moment I forgot where I was.”  Jake TenPas, The Daily Barometer

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Richard Campbell described Asplund's opera, The Archivist, as "otherworldly," and, "in its stark, minimalistic manner, Asplund's music [is] effective - he and [librettist Lara] Candland are obviously talented."

"I'd heard Christian Asplund's over-the-edge, speed-metal viola improvisations before, and again he blew me away."  Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

“Christian a product of his passion.  He is a man of music, a composer of creativity and an artistic academic.”  Kirk Blad, Resonance

"The music, composed by Christian Asplund, is. . . perfect."  Owen Clark, The Stranger

"You've heard me rave about Asplund's music before.  He is Seattle's one-man band, playing piano, harmonium and viola.  His improvisations are extremely energetic and irreverent."  D.J. Ankney, UW Daily

“Christian Asplund[‘s] contributions. . . have been nothing short of the … child of Jean-Luc Ponty and Leroy Jenkins.” The Daily Barometer

Regarding The Archivist: “Asplund’s music for this pocket orchestra is relentlessly dour, repetitive, and absorbing in its simplicity—something like what Satie might have written had he taken film noir for his inspiration rather than le music-hall… Not a note or word too many clutters the piece; it’s a marvel what dreamily unsettling effects… Asplund ha[s] produced with an (again, Satie-like) economy of means.” Encyclopedia of Northwest Music

"Asplund plays a mean viola, a splendid harmonium and a rock solid piano."  Andrew Bartlett, The Stranger

"Brainstun. . . is proving an adept and distinctive vehicle for captivating, intelligent compositions by Christian Asplund. . . . Asplund plays viola, piano, and harmonium--a kit bag that brings a bewitching otherworldliness to the band's outside-jazz meets chamber meets free-improv sound."  Earshot Jazz    

“Asplund's 34-minute Symphony No. 4 for Four Percussionists and Orchestra (1998) presents and contrasts a veritable potpourri of musical ideas. Like all audio recordings, the listener is unable to experience the choreographic and visual effects witnessed in a live performance - especially the use of paper bags and phone books; however, a lot of nice orchestral flavors are present, waiting to be sampled.” Mark Peterson, 21st Century Music

"Asplund's composing is a matter of tiny craft, absorbing the poem and making painstaking musical decisions."  Gavin Borchert, Seattle Weekly

 “The physical properties of sound also become a vehicle – Christian Asplund’s manipulation of sound in “Vision” is driven by the contemporary painting of the same name by Trevor Southey, which depicts a man and pregnant woman and an apparition of their unborn child. Asplund plays with the resonance of the piano itself and uses ‘combinations of sounds that build in such a way as to almost make sound visible.’” Rose Datoc Dall, Meridian Magazine

“The Brainstun project is yet another exploration into Asplund's lineage of diversity. The band could pass for a jazz combo, but once again, something's awry. Sure, you have a typical rhythm section held down by drums and bass (both electric and upright), and yes, a sax and piano trade leads and melodies. But viola (often played through guitar pedals) and pump organ?… Each piece walks a squiggly line that passes through jazz standard, free improv, rock, funk and a whole spectrum of “modern classical” styles, including minimalism, serialism and a handful of other “isms” favored by 20th century composers.  Yet with all these influences and tugs in different stylistic directions, the music feels unique, never favoring one genre over another…. Creating something that's different yet listenable, not to mention enjoyable to someone other than you and five of your colleagues (cough, cough academia) is a daunting task. Brainstun have accepted this challenge, and with this recording have sealed their position as innovators worthy of the responsibility.”  Dave Madden, Splendid

"Asplund is by far my favorite of the many talented young composers wandering around Seattle these days.  I have yet to be unimpressed by one of his pieces."  D.J. Ankney, The Daily.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Richard Campbell described Asplund's opera, The Archivist, as "otherworldly," and, "in its stark, minimalistic manner, Asplund's music [is] effective - he and [librettist Lara] Candland are obviously talented."

Regarding a CD of the Oklahoma-based band, >3: “If you can find the CD (or we can talk … maritime first glee club [the label], into a second pressing), you may get a first-hand glimpse of just what Buckminster meant by ‘synergy.’” POP Magazine

"For me the high point. . . of the evening [was] Christian Asplund's Concerto Grosso.  [It] began with thick, muddy chords squeezed over each other like paint right out of the tube, then thinning, clarifying, and brightening as they speeded up before dissolving into pure pointillist dots of sound."  Roger Downey, Seattle Weekly

“[T]he interplay of instruments and the tools the musicians used to pull these sounds out of their instruments (dual rubber bands, for instance, around the “waist” of the viola) was interesting, and I was thoroughly drawn in by the absolute passion the men, especially the violist [Asplund], put into their playing.”  Karen Ann Webb, The Salt Shaker

“It is hard to resist commenting on current BYU composer Christian Asplund's several hundred innovative hymns, composed primarily as a personal expression. Some require a cultivated ear, but several are surprisingly accessible despite their modern propensities. "And now I, Moroni" (Ether 12:38–41)—a mildly dissonant choral recitative for male voices—is especially effective. A solemn loneliness infuses the chantlike chords, which in their expressive neutrality (static harmony and dynamics, minimal melodic motion) emphasize the pure power of Moroni's testimony.  Imaginative works of this sort show how modernist and even avant-garde techniques can be effectively employed in dramatic and rhetorical contexts. It is generally assumed that audiences have not kept pace with the rhetoric of modern music, but if—as here—the context is clear and the purpose convincing, the effect can be exactly right.”  Roger Miller, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

“During the first Salty Cricket Composers Collective concert last February, Christian Asplund sat down at the piano to play from his composition “The Wind”—but when he hit one particular key, it made nothing more than a grating squeal. What to do? Asplund paused to jiggle the key, one his music called for often, but still it whined. And so, keeping a finger carefully lifted throughout seven short pieces, he played without it.  It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t happen at a performance of, say, Utah Symphony. But those moments give us unusually intimate glimpses into musicians’ minds—something Salty Cricket will offer again in its second concert, The Stridulation Concert.”  Christy Karras, Salt Lake City Weekly, 12 June 2008

“Christian Asplund's "4 Settings From the Brick [Church] Hymnal," [are] an evocative interpretation of four verses from the book of Isaiah.” Salt Lake Tribune

 “’Brainstun 2’ unwittingly serves as an homage to the late and highly esteemed Matthew Sperry whose untimely death occurred just a few days before this CD release.  Sperry and Christian Asplund are featured in three particularly poignant and spiritual ‘Constructions.’  Asplund, in his well-crafted compositions, delightfully teases us on those slippery slopes between composition and improvisation; in the liner notes, Michael Hicks provides ‘a perspective’ on Asplund's music that is as insightful as it is loving.  In ‘Brainstun 2’ Sperry and Greg Campbell admirably supply an energetic rhythm that propels one from track to track while, at the same time, elegant melodic explorations are delivered with aplomb by Jessica Lurie and, indeed, all the Brainstun musicians.” Stuart Dempster, Trombonist, American music pioneer

“Brainstun 2 is a really good CD.…What I like most is the scored material that is behind the solos when there is obviously a solo. Very good "orchestration." … [T]he band should be heard.” Robert Ashley (Composer, Perfect Lives, Improvement: Don Leaves Linda, etc.)

“We enjoyed your music very much…..  It is good to know your work.”  John Zorn

 “I have been listening to Christian Asplund’s music for almost twenty years. It has evolved, no doubt–better voice leading, counterpoint, etc. But what I cherish about it is that it has never lost its intrinsic point of view, so beautifully idiosyncratic that I have never heard two people describe it the same way. That’s good (for Christian, for music). I’ll just say that his compositions hover between serious and playful attitudes just as Cage’s, Zappa’s, Zorn’s, or even Carl Stalling’s do. There is an acute learnedness tainted with sarcasm, sometimes an almost cloying sweetness shot through with a Varese-like intensity. Yes, I know: postmodernism. But more important, as Laurie Anderson–another in this pantheon of ‘attitudists’–once said of Cage: ‘He makes me smile. I trust that.’  Brainstun is both a distillation and flowering of Asplund’s already large collected opus. A distillation because one finds here microcosms of what one can hear in his operas and orchestral pieces (equally unclassifiable but more overtly ‘legit’ in their trappings). A flowering because this powerful quartet not only behaves with the same attitude as Asplund but shapes the music equally with him, intelligently yet with an almost Talking Heads-level groove. Each player’s performative conviction and conversance with styles makes the quartet collectively a perfect match for Asplund’s charts. Philip Glass, free jazz, Bartok, hip-hop, and on and on–trying to list the influences is to pollute the intuitive synthesis they make–or, more precisely, it (one organism) makes. So just listen: Brainstun thinks with its guts.”    Michael Hicks (Author, 60’s Rock, Henry Cowell: Bohemian 

bottom of page