Composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist, has situated himself for more than thirty years in the area where rock music and new music meet. Co-founder of the British underground band Henry Cow (1968-78), he moved to New York in the late seventies and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he’s since been associated, including: John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins, and Bob Ostertag.
Fourteen years in New York gave rise to groups like Massacre (with Bill Laswell and Fred Maher), Skeleton Crew (with Tom and Zeena), and Keep the Dog, a sextet performing an extensive repertoire of Fred’s compositions.
In the 80′s, Fred began to write for dance, film, and theatre, and this in turn has led to his composing for Rova Sax Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, and many other groups, including his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet. Best known world-wide as an improvising guitarist, Fred has also performed in a variety of other contexts, playing bass in John Zorn’s Naked City, violin in Lars Hollmer’s Looping Home Orchestra, and guitar on recordings ranging from The Residents and René Lussier to Brian Eno and Amy Denio.
Fred is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels’ award-winning documentary film Step Across the Border. He is currently Professor of Composition at Mills College in Oakland, California.