Chris Forsyth

30 Nov 2016


Chris Forsyth, 2011 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

"Because I am attracted to traditional and radical approaches, I like to explore the zones where different ideas rub up against each other and make sparks."

Chris Forsyth (b. 1973) seeks out and articulates intersections of various musical traditions, including free jazz, American folk, blues, and 20th-century electronic music. Drawn to rock music while growing up in New Jersey, Forsyth immersed himself in improvisational music in the mid-'90s, hearing and learning from many important experimental artists, including Richard Lloyd, a founding member of the influential punk band Television, and jazz guitarist Joe Morris. Since then, he has embarked on a musical career that remains devoted to his rock roots while questioning and expanding them. "I like to explore the zones where different ideas rub up against each other and make sparks," says Forsyth. Like 2011 Pew Fellow Charles Cohen, Forsyth finds himself especially attracted to the dynamism and singularity of improvisational music. "Improvisation involves the chance of failure as much as invention, but when it works, it is, for me, the best kind of music—living, evolving music."

Forsyth has performed throughout Europe and the United States with various ensembles and collaborators, and has over 30 releases available on independent record labels, including his own, Evolving Ear. An album inspired by his Kensington Neighborhood in Philadelphia, Kenzo Deluxe, was released in July 2012 by the Northern Spy label; the CD and vinyl editions include cover art by 2012 Pew Fellow Dan Murphy. In October 2013, the Paradise of Bachelors label released his most ambitious full-band recording yet: the immersive, four-part suite Solar Motel. According to critic Tony Rettman, "[Solar Motel] serves as a perfect example of what Forsyth calls his music: Cosmic Americana."In the fall of 2014, Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band released Intensity Ghost on No Quarter Records.

Chris Forsyth, "Solar Motel," from Solar Motel (Paradise of Bachelors, 2013).