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Alternative & Indie - Released August 30, 2019 | Sacred Bones Records

Margaret Chardiet's albums as Pharmakon have always dealt with themes relating to physical pain and body betrayal, and Devour pushes this to the extreme, interpreting a vicious cycle of self-cannibalism. As Chardiet explains, this is intended as allegory for the self-destructive nature of humans, as we instinctively respond to a world of increasing violence and oppression by punishing ourselves. She recorded Devour live in the studio with engineer Ben Greenberg of Uniform, performing each side of the album as a continuous take. Coming closer to the sheer power of her confrontational live shows than her previous records, this is easily some of her most intense work. Chardiet's compositions are always carefully planned out, with no improvisation, but every development on this album sounds like it's occurring in real time, making it feel direct and spontaneous. There are several long stretches of queasy, gliding drones, sharpened by piercing feedback and frenzied shrieking, which sounds like Chardiet trying to break free of her body. "Self Regulating System" is the centerpiece, juxtaposing drilling noises with a slow, crushed rhythm, leading to a hair-raising conclusion of a roomful of Pharmakons screaming at each other. "Pristine Panic/Cheek by Jowl" is a ten-minute vortex of nauseous electronics and vocals that switch from sinister spoken word to venomous roaring. Like everything else Pharmakon does, this is almost unbearably intense, but in a way that resonates deeply and is almost soothing, as if the only way to justify the horrors of living is to elevate one's self into the most chaotic state possible. ~ Paul Simpson
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 31, 2017 | Sacred Bones Records

Pharmakon's second full-length, the brilliant 2014 release Bestial Burden, dealt with physical pain and feeling betrayed by one's own body. On her 2017 follow-up, Contact, noise artist Margaret Chardiet aims to escape the confines of her aching frame and induce trance states, producing out-of-body experiences. This is Pharmakon at her most hypnotic and brooding -- there's nothing as immediate as "Autoimmune" from her previous album, and it couldn't possibly be as confrontational as her live shows, during which she physically engages with her audience, screaming in people's faces and getting them tangled up with her microphone cord. That said, it's still an incredibly powerful, bracing work. This is the first Pharmakon album to be recorded in a professional studio, and it's one of her most focused attacks yet. Contact contains some of Chardiet's most vicious vocal performances to date, as she snarls and exorcizes demons over a slowly pounding industrial death drone. Opener "Nakedness of Need" features throbbing bass and swarming electronics, while Chardiet shrieks her head off. "Transmission" is more nervous and jittery, with her machines pulsating and shaking and her delay-covered howls creating their own rhythm. "Somatic" forgoes vocals, building a loose structure out of feedback and erupting in blazing distortion later on. The album concludes with "No Natural Order," which features clanging metal chains (which she constructs sounds from during her live performances) and lyrics about how logic is a man-made concept. Everything is arbitrary, nothing makes sense, and there's ultimately no significance to anything. Chardiet alternates between harsh squealing and guttural growling, and the effect is equally oppressive as well as liberating. As grim and hopeless as the album may seem, it's ultimately about escaping day-to-day reality and entering a state of transcendence. It's startling and uncomfortable, but it's highly compelling. ~ Paul Simpson
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 14, 2013 | Sacred Bones Records

There's comfort to be found in the familiar, but when the structures and traditions we find so soothing are twisted just so, they have the capacity to become truly unsettling. Such is the case with Abandon, the first proper album from Pharmakon -- aka Margaret Chardiet -- who twists the very building blocks of music into something altogether unsettling. In the harsh world that Pharmakon creates here, singing becomes an anguished wail, backbeats become ominous thrums of low-end noise, and rhythm sections are replaced by hypnotic surges of mechanical noise, making it clear to listeners that the structures they find comfort in have been corrupted; there is no safe haven here. Going deeper into the album, it's hard not to feel like a character from a horror film who, despite all the warnings to turn back, presses on toward his or her grisly fate. Abandon's oddly hypnotic qualities keep you moving forward, though. Once the initial shock of the grime and grind of its harsh death industrial machinations wears off, the album reveals itself to be a more meditative and patient work than its veneer of savagery would lead you to believe, so while every uneasy moment of Abandon makes you feel as though you should turn it off, the trancelike state Abandon induces makes it difficult to walk away. This state makes it clear that instead of the chaotic improv one would normally expect from a noise album like this, Abandon is an exercise in precision, drawing in its prey and exposing it to a sonic assault that will leave it both exhausted and enlightened. ~ Gregory Heaney
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 14, 2017 | Sacred Bones Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 9, 2019 | Sacred Bones Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 7, 2019 | Sacred Bones Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 12, 2017 | Sacred Bones Records