fORCH was initially formed, at the invitation of Reinhard Kager, for the 2005 New Jazz Meeting of the SWR (South West German Radio), which consisted of a week of intensive rehearsing and recording followed by four concerts. Two releases from that project are available on Evan Parker's psi label: equals and the double CD spin networks (see cds).
The fORCH ensemble is based around the electroacoustic duo FURT, which was formed by Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer in 1986 and which has performed throughout Europe and released six CDs of its own. FURT’s music is a unique combination of kaleidoscopic electronic/concrete sound with the headlong energy of free jazz, described in the Guardian as “one of the most blisteringly energetic and experimental partnerships over the past 20 years”.
Expanding FURT into a new kind of “orchestra” (hence the name fORCH) had been an objective for many years, and the SWR project created an opportunity to establish such an ensemble, in which the electronic duo was combined with vocalists and instrumentalists, all leading players in the world of improvised and experimental music who have developed their own unprecedented sounds and techniques.
fORCH plays a combination of “pure” improvised music and composed frameworks by FURT which serve to co-ordinate and channel the musical energy of the band in clearly structured but still “free” directions, so that it has a strong musical personality which is more than the sum of its parts. This is a new kind of contemporary music ensemble which no longer recognises any hierarchy between composers and performers.
In 2005 the original line-up was Richard Barrett and Paul Obermayer (electronics), Phil Minton and Ute Wassermann (voices), John Butcher (saxophones), Paul Lovens (percussion), Wolfgang Mitterer (piano/electronics) and Rhodri Davies (celtic and concert harps). Subsequent performances – at the Spitalfields Festival in London, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Aberdeen’s sound festival – have also incorporated Peter Evans (trumpets), Aleksander Kolkowski (viola) and Anne La Berge (flutes/electronics). Lori Freedman (clarinets) joined the group for the first time at the Donaueschinger Musiktage in October 2012.