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I've been having trouble deciding on the final band for my 'Influences you've never heard of' series (previous part is here). Opeth, Barons of Tang, Crooked Fiddle Band, Cirque du Soleil, plus several others, were all contenders for that spot. Instead I've decided to leave you with something I've been listening to a bit recently, which I think will influence me in the future. Tigran's a jazz pianist, some excellent metal rhythms going on in a lot of the stuff he puts together.

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This is part four of the 'my influences you've never heard of' series. Part 3 is here.

Mike Oldfield was my first progressive influence - I was listening to him even before I started playing guitar. He was big enough in his time that his album 'Tubular Bells' gets filed in the popular section at cd stores, although I have no idea how it got that way; certainly I don't hear anything like this becoming popular now. While this sound isn't particularly what I want my music to sound like, listening to it certainly shaped my ideas about how to put parts together.

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This is part two of the 'my influences you've never heard of' series. For part 1 click here.

This is my most recent big influence. The brainchild of Ben Sharp, who writes and records everything himself, Cloudkicker has grown to be fairly famous among prog musicians entirely through word of mouth. Ben is excellent at knowing when to repeat and layer sections, and when to bring in changes, and I've learned a lot about using interesting time signatures unobtrusively from listening to his work. Most of his pieces are quite heavy, but he has some beautiful, relaxed tunes as well - Let Yourself Be Huge is one I'd recommend for those who dislike distortion.

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Time for part three of the 'my influences you've never heard of' series. Part two is here.

Grandmaster Monk potentially had the biggest impact on my ideas around on how frog (progressive folk) metal could work. I first saw them after I'd written a few tunes, but I knew that something was missing, that I didn't sound the way that I wanted to. I just had no idea what that thing was. This mob with their heavy, melodic acoustic instrumentals showed me the concept I was after. Here's one of their songs for you.

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Usually when people ask me about music I listen to, they've never heard of any of the bands I talk about. With this in mind, I've decided to do a little series on my top influences.

First up is Tim McMillan. I first heard Tim after I'd been playing for a few years, and was starting to develop my own style. I saw him at a little pub in Newcastle, where he was standing on the drum kit, cursing his bass player for not shredding enough, and generally being obnoxious whilst playing amazingly fast and complicated acoustic pieces.

When I looked him up later, the contrast between what I'd seen and the gentle, beautiful recordings I found surprised me, but I have found inspiration in both sides of Tim's music, and I still learn something about playing guitar every time I see him play. Check him out:

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