Harpist Emily Hopkins is a runaway harp YouTube sensation – yes, those are still being born. A high point: reviewing “the heaviest distortion pedal I could fine” on not one but two harps.
The New York-based harpist has a whole series of stomp pedal reviews. It’s a perfect resource if you’re obsessed with stomp effects. It’s a perfect resource if you’re obsessed with the harp. It’s a mind-blowing discovery if you somehow already were deeply passionate about both. But let’s skip straight to some distortion.
So the distortion device in question is Electrofoods’ Nepenthes. Nepenthes? Why, that’s a tropical carnivorous plant found in southeast Asia and Pacific – Filipino friends, maybe you can track one down, as it sounds fairly common. (Germany has other meat-eating options.) It’s one of those carnivorous plants that looks like it’s got a big cup at its base, which is full of digestive juices with some antimicrobial properties (cool!) and a tendency to support mosquito larvae (oh, no, don’t do that!). And it eats flies, particularly if they fall in the wrong way.
I figured it was some Greek classical reference – turns out, it’s both. If you remember the forgetfulness potion Helen gets in the Odyssey, that’s Nepenthes pharmakon (erm, “grief-forgetting potion” basically), which does sound like a hell of a way to roll and maybe what we should all be raving on right now.
Wait. This article is about something. Oh yes – harps and distortion pedals. This distortion pedal. Now that I look closer, I see that is the fly-eating plant silkscreened on the pedal. Turns out a particularly hungry Nepenthes can eat rats as well as flies. So this is a “rodent-devouring discrete opamp distortion.” And you know what that means – another beautiful creation inspired by the classic RAT. (You can get those, too, along with variations with wonderful names like the Turbo RAT and You Dirty RAT, from RAT Distortion in Missouri.)
Feedback clipping toggle – for extra clipping. Tone and Gain and Level knobs.
Nectar is an interesting boost that works together with the toggle.
They’re back-ordered – kind of everything is, these days – but they say more is coming. US$200, so it’s a premium alternative to RAT’s offerings, but it sure does sound and look lovely.
And there’s still another video:
And from there, assuming you didn’t fall down the rabbit hole trap door I opened about carnivorous botany or decide to re-read Homer, you can head down a rabbit hole of effects pedals and hardware and harp music. There are detailed video reviews and a full Bandcamp account of all the sound samples.
I mean, sure. Practically-minded people are already saying, by the time I distort things that much, why wouldn’t I carry something less enormous, expensive, heavy, and climate-sensitive than a harp, which is nearly every other instrument ever? But practically-minded people can well shut their venus fly trap, because we know you would never become a harpist in the first place, and this is music we’re talking about – life-destroying, sin-inspiring, distortion-laden music, the field parents since the dawn of human society have tried to assist their children in avoiding, as if they were flies trying to avoid falling lethally into a carnivorous plant.
And here – have one more fantastic video:
Dark Star seems like a must-have – apart from name-dropping one of my favorite-ever films and most favorite-ever John Carpenter score.
Reverb, Pitch, Delay, Crush – with both an octaver and a bitcrusher. Fiendishly clever combo there, US$199 from a nice company called Old Blood Noise Endeavors.
And enjoy Emily’s channel, which somehow started with this: