Bunch Of Fives: Benjamin Fitzgerald | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Benjamin Fitzgerald is a multi-instrumentalist and neo-classical composer from the North East. His rare style of composition incorporates an eclectic mix of transcendent strings, surrealism and a plethora of inspirations spanning modern jazz through electronica. On Thursday 23rd January he performs alongside trad-folk artist, AFOSS Brightly, at Cobalt – as part of their FRESH new music showcase. Ahead of the show, Benjamin lists his top five composers that have inspired him.

The theme I’ve chosen is my all-time favourite composers or producers that have a direct influence on the compositions and live sound that I’m currently creating. Basically, the artists that make you curse to the wind because they’ve blown your mind too many times over and drained you of all your emotions. Yeah – that.

5. Poppy Ackroyd.
In terms of technical skill, there are few pianists that I look to in such awe and admiration than I do for Poppy Ackroyd. As I’m a drummer with no theoretical knowledge, it’s easy for me to get lost in the overlapping myriad of rudiments and polyrhythms that she includes in her compositions. She manages to make beautifully intricate beats, influenced by features of ASMR, to accompany her melodies, using acoustic rhythmical elements through her piano, alongside looping, creating an incredibly intense and euphoric soundscape. 

4. Mari Kalkun
On the subject of ASMR, there is no musical artist that manages to implement it within their music as beautifully as the singer Mari Kalkun. Although there is no evidence that this is intentional within her work, it is certainly a relevant feature and one that is pretty inspiring. I think it must have to do with the close and personal recording techniques or the rhythm of her native Estonian. Either way, it’s proper lush. 

3. Above and Beyond
You would think including the cry-trance giants within this list is strange and a bit lame, and you may even be right. But it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be making the music I do without them and the influence trance music has had on me over the years. Discovering them as a fresh-faced 13 year old youth truly opened my mind to a different kind of experience as a listener and gave me the first insight into what an emotional connection with music could be. Although none of their songs in particular stick out to me these days, it would be wrong for me not to credit them for what they’ve done for my musical discovery. Their acoustic albums also provided a nice little segue into classical music.  


 2. Phaeleh
Of all the members on this list I would have to say that Phaeleh is my all-time bae (can I say that?) since my discovery in 2011; he’s managed to pioneer his way through a multitude of genres from dubstep, drum & bass, ambient, UK garage and conveniently (for me anyway) neo-classical music – and I would have to say I’ve been with him every step of the way. Everything this man produces, from structure, mode, melody and live development is, in my eyes, absolute genius.

 1. Olafur Arnalds/Nils Frahm
I get it’s a bit of a cop-out including two names as my number one but they both represent an extremely similar area of influence for me. They also perform together, having recorded an improvised album together, called “Trance Frendz” (go figure), so it doesn’t feel like sacrilege to pair them up. Both considered pioneers of neo-classical music, they bridge the gap between acoustic and electronic elements and find the balance between melancholy and euphoria which, to me is what the genre is all about and what my compositions certainly try to do. 

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