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Pharmakon – “Abandon” – [Sacred Bones Records]


In ancient Greece, a pharmakon was an individual charged with performing ritual human sacrifice. In the America of 2013, Pharmakon is the death industrial project of New Yorker Margaret Chardiet. It’s crazy that something this good was released on Sacred Bones, and crazier still that something so esoterically twisted has been getting so many write-ups from the mainstream music press, but I digress– on her debut album, Chardiet, who has been making experimental music since her late teens, brings her own sense of nuance and composition to the type of mentally-unbalanced-but-obsessively-crafted audio degeneracy developed in the 80s and 90s by acts associated with such labels as Cold Meat Industry, Cold Spring, Tesco and Old Europa Cafe. Rhythmic, distorted electronics and tormented vocals are the main elements of Pharmakon’s sound. T.1 materializes in morose dark ambient muttering before a minimal pulsing beat and high-pitched synths give Chardiet an excuse to scream her head off. The harsh lecture continues on t.2, which pounds dissonantly along at funereal pace until it loses its way amid washes of ghostly murmuring. Lovely t.3 scales back the brutality enough to allow for some gothic wailing a la Dead Can Dance, proving that Chardiet, unlike many artists in her genre, can actually ‘sing’ when it’s called for. On t.4, a sort of digital battle march that strongly evokes Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Discipline,’ her oblique chants (“Bound! To a vision! I have not! Yet created!”) are rendered yet more bilious by heavy processing. Tracks 5-98 are blank, six seconds each of silence. On the hidden track (99), a shapeshifting 27-minute juggernaut of delirious electro-doom, blazing noise and gunshots, the glamorous young blonde is heard moaning like Lydia Lunch one second and puking up black slime the next. Throughout, ‘Abandon’ presents a unified vision of catharsis through pain, viciously transcendent and hopelessly pure. I love it.

  • Reviewed by Lord Gravestench on October 29, 2013 at 1:06 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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