Music Reviews

Pharmakon Contact

(Sacred Bones) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Noise is a striking mechanism for Margaret Chardiet to express her innermost anxieties. Her last full length, Bestial Burden, was a gutting response to how illness overcame her. She doesn’t get pleasure in exploring any highfalutin concepts; instead, she’s moved by human anatomy, what’s ultimately the highest authority when deciding our fate. In Contact, she’s now ready to face her surroundings. Transcendence is the key theme, as she attempts to go beyond the physical level to achieve actual empathy with those who are at her presence.

Chardiet is certainly reaching for the unattainable, or at least it’s a hard thing to accomplish if you’re not out there directly connecting with the public. But seeing as her live performances are a combination of purely visceral theater, a more adequate platform that allows her to genuinely interact with her audience, she might actually come close. Conversely, Contact isn’t exactly a cozy transcendental experience - she’s still as confrontational as ever, casting out her powerful and echoing vocal shrieks as a pulsing drone takes charge. It’s a format that she’s perfected while pursuing her Pharmakon project for a good decade now, and as tracks like Transmission and Nakeness of Need demonstrate, she’s forever testing her own limits.

That’s not to say that she’s failed to evolve over the years. Contact may just be her most patient and tempered release yet, even if her menacing and agonistic assaults are still what shape her carnal narratives. There’s whiff of unsettling ambiance in tracks like Sentient and Somatic, where instead of hammering a sonic clatter she poisons you with a suffocating silence. It all culminates with the vivid closer No Natural Order, where Chardiet steps back into frame and creates an out-of-body illusion for those who’ve been waiting for an openly cathartic finish.

Though not as conceptually absorbing as Bestial Burden, Contact is a no less challenging effort that seeks to find some kind of understanding from its listeners. Her bellowing screams are not meant to frighten, but to alarm you, fostering a sense of much-needed communal unity. Chardiet extends her influence outwards with a confidence that is simply intoxicating.