Phamarkon is a deep black pit inviting you to fall in. If you do, you will never want to climb out again.
The girl behind the name Pharmakon is Margaret Chardiet, a not so typical 22-year-old from New York, active in the city’s underground diy scene, who embodies the sound of said darkness. According to an interview of hers (http://janepain.wordpress.com/2012/04/0 ... t-to-talk/), the name of the project is coming from the ancient greek word "φ?ρμακον" which stands for both poison and remedy, and this is what this record is going to be to your ears. Margaret also states that Pharmakon is her main driving force which had been waiting to be exorcised outta her for years. Thankfully, it was.
Having recorded a series of super rare cd-rs and cassettes in the past, Abandon is Pharmakon’s first lp release on one of my favourite labels, Sacred Bones Records that came out a couple of months ago. What we get is only 4 songs, but they are more than enough to get you familiar with the cold nature of the world and the human race, the filth and the desperation. However it is a record that helps you deal with your own darkness and each track gets you deeper into the pit. By the end of the last track, you’re not sure if the music is coming from your speakers, or from the inside of your head. Congratulations, you just listened to the sound of a good psychological thriller, and you will never be the same.
Pharmakon is a noise project, but much more than that. You get lost in a noise-black kind of blur, the power electronics and the elements of drone and ambient are also there, waiting to get you when you’re most vulnerable. I thought of Khanate and I thought of Swans. Swans sure did too, because Margaret is opening for them this summer, as these lines are being written. She’s already shared the stage with many other music projects that belong to the dark side - Raspberry Bulbs, Bone Awl, Salvation and Vår are some to date.
In the beginning, there is an unearthly shriek, it is the primal shriek of loss, the shriek of a woman possessed, both promise and warning for what is going to come next. What does come next in opening track "Milkweed/It hangs heavy" is soft talking, you can feel her voice whispering in your ear about your demons, making you uncomfortable. And along comes the noise and its deep persistent monotony, together with dissonant screams that carry the stench of a sharp pain. Harsh electronics introduce us to track number 2, "Ache". The wrenching screams are always there accompanied by reverbed echoes of Margaret’s voice, and minimal sonic patterns.
"Pitted" feels like a David Lynch movie. It starts with a thunderous thudding sound, the sound of a thudding heart, or the one of complete suspicious strangers banging on your door, waiting for you to let them in. Margaret adds another set of reverbed echoes to the mix, which go back to shrieking when you least expect it. This track works like a sonic metaphor for your favourite nightmare.
A new thud announces the arrival of track number 4, "Crawling on Bruised Knees". It gives you the feeling of walking through an abandoned industrial landscape, while heavy factory machines are working unstoppably on their own will. Soon, baffled whispers begin to haunt you.
When it comes to 27-minute bonus track "Sour Sap", I came to love the drone part somewhere in the middle of the song, when the harsh electronics give their place to a Sunn-O)))-like seething noise, always accompanied by Margaret’s background screaming that this time sounds almost evil.
This is one of the most experimental releases I’ve listened to in years. Margaret Chardiet managed to make the difference in a male-dominated genre, offering you a sonic and, at the same time, emotional attack that catches you off guard and spits its mechanical chaos in your face. By the end of the record, you won’t know what hit you. This record is looking at you straight into the eyes, a lot like Margaret does during her live performances. We should be waiting for great things to be coming from her in the future.
P.S-Sacred Bones Records, I think I adore your every release.
8.5 / 10
Back in 2014, Margaret Chardier came face to face with a life-threatening situation, which inspired her new record at the time, Bestial Burden. As was the case with her third ...
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