07 10

Pharmakon Contact Sacred Bones

While Margaret Chardiet’s previous album as Pharmakon, 2014’s Bestial Burden, explored the harrowing disconnect between mind and body, Contact seems to go a step further, asking: ‘What does it mean to be human?’ Chardiet’s conclusion is as captivating as it is horrifying.

The release of Contact comes at a strange time in political history; Trump’s inauguration and the radicalisation of right-wing powers has left a putrid dissonance in the minds of liberals across the world. It could be argued that Contact (released on the 10 year anniversary of her Pharmakon project) is a reaction to these events – an unorthodox plea for change. ‘Empathy! EMPATHY, NOW!’ cites the artist’s press release for Brooklyn-based label Sacred Bones.

Structurally, the album follows the four stages of trance: preparation, onset, climax and resolution. Amidst the chaos of the industrialised static and Chardiet’s bloodcurdling screams, this four-part format provides strange sense of order to the listening process. It’s this use of structure that lends itself to sonic growth and complexity, which sets it apart from so many other experiments in confrontational sound.

There is one track, however, that makes you teeter on the edge of sanity. Sleepwalking Form, a seven-minute epic, is a shrivelling and uncomfortable mass of noise, with ritualistic drumming that pervades through the entire song and detonates in one final screech. It might not be enjoyable, but boy, is it powerful