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Pharmakon Bestial Burden Sacred bones

Bestial Burden opens on a rhythmic asthma attack. Margaret Chardiet’s increasingly clipped, increasingly short breaths transform into a loop that lays a foundation for the record’s main windfall; humanity. What’s more human than breathing? What’s more disconcerting than not being able to? To understand that is to understand Bestial Burden. It’s a record that strives to underpin, through noise, the inscrutable intensity of simply being.

The sounds Chardiet deploys, mainly through percussive, filtered, analogue instrumentation, see Pharmakon lumped as a ‘noise’ project. But this album is far too accessible for that tag. It’s loud and punishing, but it’s also very approachable – partly down to that writhing emotion; the visceral screams that permeate most tracks and the interludes of wheezing, coughing, body sounds. Mostly though, it’s Chardiet’s considered approach to rhythm and structure that make this record relatable. She eschews atypical time signatures in favour of distorted homemade snares and crashes that rest comfortably in 4/4 whilst her scenery bulges, implodes. These found percussive plates pulsate and grind through pedals and modulators at frequencies that sound alien but actually remain within normal human range. Pharmakon’s second album is a huge step towards congeniality for the listener. The intricately constructed sensibility and depth of form, timing and texture compliment the guttural sounds of hyperventilation and coughs that slot between the songs. This duality of benevolence drives home the human element in the record’s industrial roots. Bestial Burden ends as personally as it begins; maniacal laughter bleeds into screaming over trembling bass and descends into murky, treble strewn chaos. We’re thrown into the depths of psychosis. A gut-trusting, visceral diary entry for an artist obsessed with the unfathomable nature of existence.