Despite our rather expensive university and post-graduate educations, there are still plenty of things in this world that may seem as normal or simple to comprehend as peeling a potato to most people, yet leave us struggling to comprehend even the most basic concepts therein. On one hand, you have the situation where, due to the subjective complexity of the particular subject matter, we will simply choose to ignore that certain something until we have to understand it, invariably through the developing necessity to utilise that certain something; featuring heavily in this category, as far as we are concerned, is word pronounciation – for example, we went for nearly 10 years believing the word apparel was spoken phonetically as “appa-rell”. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, bastards. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those things that we find incomprehensible from the outset – like, say, the secret blend of herbs and spices in KFC – but nevertheless we wholeheartedly accept as fascinating and important to our overall enjoyment of life’s rich tapestry as anything else we hold dear to our hearts. Having just spent a good hour absorbing and attempting to comprehend Arkansas’ Listener, there’s no doubt of them slotting comfortably into this latter category…

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If you have taken the time to watch either of the two videos above, and are still reading on – well done. You’ve taken a brave step into a brilliantly strange and very much new world, a world called Talk Music. Listener is the brainchild of hip-hopping and punk-rocking spoken word pioneer Dan Smith, a 5’11” disease-free Libra, whose chief loves in life include van rides and yelling at people. Having toured extensively – mostly concentrated in their native USA, but they have indeed touched down in the UK a few times over the course of the last several years – Dan, plus “First Mate” Chris Nelson have been trucking around since 2008-ish developing and perfecting this poetry-and-music style of art. Which all in all makes them completely incomparable to, well, anything. Nevertheless, if we had to place this in a jar on a shelf (which we obviously have decided we must), it would probably look pretty triangulated in between those labelled “Scroobius Pip“, “Essence of Manchester Orchestra“, and “Herbs De MeWithoutYou“. That’s your secret herbs and spices right there. Sprinkle all four over some Mos Def and you’ve got something far more delicious than KFC.

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While we currently find ourselves floating in an ocean of pop, dance, r’n’b, chart-worthy crossovers, whatever; it is truly refreshing to come across something as unique as this, that not only pushes the limits of musical expression but opens them entirely. We are also pleased as punch to learn that Listener will be gracing these very shores this very month as part of a more extensive tour of Europe, and they can be caught by Londoners at 93 Feet East on 30th April. See you down there – we’ll be the ones trying to pick up our jaws from the floor after the show.


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