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Label & Cat.Number: Sacred Bones Records SBR-175
Release Year: 2017
Note: third full lenght album by this impressive, vocal based female noise/industrial project from NYC, working on the four trance-states ("preparation", "onset", "climax", "resolution") as inspiration for the question how to transcend the physically body with your mind... "each track of the new Pharmakon LP can be heard as a violent scuffle between mind and body. Even when her visceral noise achieves moments of transcendence, it still strikes you in the gut." [Pitchfork]; 350 copies on cream coloured vinyl!
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €22.50
More Info"The release date of Contact marks the ten-year anniversary of Margaret Chardiet’s project, Pharmakon. While working on her newest release, she began to evaluate the project as a whole. Though the content of each record has been very different and specific, the pervading question, which has underlined them all, is what is means to be human. Her last album, Bestial Burden, focused on the disconnect between mind and body, looking at the human as an isolated consciousness stuck inside of a rotting vessel. For Contact, she wanted to look at the other side of the spectrum – the moments when our mind can come outside of and transcend our bodies.
Because an album is itself an object, she struggled with how to convey the transcendence of the physical, through a physical medium. She started to study trance states and equate her live performances to them. In trance states, music and the body are used to transcend the physical form and make contact with some outside force. In the live setting, she used sound and her body to create an exchange of energy and make contact with outside forces - humanity, empathy, the audience. This energy/empathy exchange has always been at the heart of a Pharmakon performance, but she felt that on records, it wasn’t translating. They were one-sided and flat – declarations rather than conversations. She decided to structure the compositions of each side of Contact after the four stages of trance: preparation, onset, climax, and resolution. By using these stages as a biorhythm for the album, she animates it, and instills the intention of communion into the music.
Release date: 3/31/2017" [label info]
"Each track of the new Pharmakon LP can be heard as a violent scuffle between mind and body. Even when her visceral noise achieves moments of transcendence, it still strikes you in the gut.
Through a decade of performing and recording as Pharmakon, Margaret Chardiet has made music that heaves, throbs, and decays. Harnessing the drilling power of electronics and the elasticity of her screams, she’s concocted visceral noise in New York since she was a teenager—first on small-run tapes and CD-Rs, then on more widely-available albums for her hometown label Sacred Bones. As her profile has grown, her sound has remained physical, the aural equivalent of organs pumping life into a body while nature takes a toll on its flesh. The physicality of each Pharmakon album emerges in Chardiet’s choices of cover art. Her 2013 LP Abandon showed maggots swarming on her lap, suggesting a theme of bodily decomposition. For 2014’s Bestial Burden—influenced by an illness that required emergency surgery—she placed animal organs on her chest and torso, as if her own innards had broken through her skin.
On the cover of the third Pharmakon full-length, Contact, Chardiet is no longer alone. A mesh of greasy fingers cover her face, her hair tangled in between them like a spiderweb catching flies. Perhaps Contact, then, is about reaching out and connecting with others. Alongside the heavier, more claustrophobic Bestial Burden, this new collection sounds spacious. Chardiet has opened her psychic soundscapes to give the outside world more room to enter. And that’s a well-timed goal, given how current political strife has pushed people to work together rather than turn inward.
In press materials, Chardiet says Contact is about “when our mind uses the body in order to transcend or escape it.” (Or, as she recently expanded, it’s “about stepping outside your experiences as a human and looking at humanity in an objective way.”) The ultimate objective, she writes, is “Empathy! EMPATHY, NOW!” Achieving that isn’t easy. The music on Contact is stressful and tense, rife with conflicts that aren’t always resolved. At one point, Chardiet even seems ready to admit defeat, singing that “Despite all our scrambling rejections/We cannot transcend all of our instincts/Just animals, lost in a confused dream.” But she never gives up. Each track can be heard as a violent scuffle between mind and body, and Chardiet compellingly mines that primal contest for drama and catharsis. The music hammers with industrial heft, vibrates with nervous pulse, and envelops with tactile atmosphere. Even when her songs achieve moments of transcendence, they still strike you directly in the gut.
Contact benefits from Chardiet’s agile voice, which feels more prominent than ever. Her howls and screeches are central to four of the album’s six tracks, naturally humanizing the music while standing strong inside the electronic clatter. On “Nakedness of Need,” ominous noise is shifted by her blasting shrieks, while during “Transmission” her screams bounce around the din like wolves surrounding prey. That song’s lyric comprises just five lines, framing communication as paramount: “I had a conversation/It lasted nearly an hour/Held no words/And carried the weight/Of the state of things so held.”
Chardiet’s sounds are in a constant tug of war on Contact, and that clash seems to be the point. Just as there’s often more to learn from a journey than its destination, for Pharmakon the battle outweighs the result. Perhaps that’s why Contact’s closer, “No Natural Order,” actually resembles a battlefield. Crashes and pounds rattle while Chardiet peals out angry breaths, undaunted by the sonic assault. In the end, her chants could pass for political slogans—“No divine law, escape!/No positive law, revolt!/No natural law pertains:/Only empathy, untamed”—and it sounds like a victory." [Marc Masters / Pitchfork]
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