From the very start of Now you'll be able to hear the simmering anger and imagine the sneering curl of London rapper Potent Whisper's lip as he taunts the establishment. But what you might be surprised to learn is that the backing music isn't the usual layer upon layer of samples. It's not even a whole band, although you'd be forgiven for thinking it is. In fact, all of the music on Now is performed on... a harp.
After training as an actor at the BRIT school, Georgie Stephanou turned to rapping and spoken word performance and his day job involves running poetry and rap workshops for people of all ages to empower them through the expression of issues they care about. But on stage and in the street he becomes Potent Whisper, a self-proclaimed Accidental Activist or New Radical, someone who, he says, isn't drawn to activism because of ideology or belief but "out of personal necessity, to defend themselves and secure their own immediate existence".
"New Radicals are disabled people who fight the cuts to their disability benefits, or the terminally ill who are being declared 'fit for work' by the [Department for Work and Pensions]," he explains on his website. "They are the families opposing estate regeneration, forced to fight to stop the demolition of their homes and the ripping apart of their communities. They are the young people being made homeless because of cuts to housing benefits, and the women who continue to live in violent households because domestic abuse services are no longer being funded. They are the young black men who organise to protect themselves from murder at the hands of the police. They are the one million people who access the NHS every 36 hours, who will soon have to pay for healthcare and die if they can't afford it. They are the 1 million people who use food banks every year because working 40 hours per week doesn't pay them enough to survive. They are your friends. They are your neighbours. They are you."
Watch the video for this cold and visceral call to arms to see the talents of experimental harpist Maria-Christina as she plucks, bows and drums a haunting accompaniment with a relentless beat using nothing but her harp, with the help of a pedal or seven.
You can learn more about Potent Whisper and 7 Pedals here
About the curator: Jon Ewing
After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which he has attended every year since 1992.