Album Reviews

Pharmakon – Abandon

on May 15, 2013, 12:01am
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On her new LP as Pharmakon, Margaret Chardiet uses whatever tool she can to scrape the society off of your bones. Abandon, her first album with Sacred Bones, opens with a blood-curdling scream that blends into a burning wash of pitch-matched noise. The feedback and grime are extensions of the human, all in the service of people “relinquishing control” and “complete psychic abandon.”

The four tracks of power electronics that follow burn and burrow, every gasp for breath filling the lungs with more soot and smoke, every exhalation fanning the flames. What’s more, the music is meticulously plotted for maximum abrasion. On first track “Milkweed/ It Hangs Heavy”, over-red clatter and charred vocals bury the feedback, only to fade to reveal villainous robotic cricket chirps and Inception sub-bass thrums, Chardiet’s howled vocals leading the swarm.

A brief moment of calm follows, though seemingly because the album is separated into individual tracks. A morse code message of industrial drilling pulses into life on “Ache”, followed by more oscillated pain. Here, and throughout the album, Chardiet’s lyrics are delivered in such pained intensity that you have to assume that their content matches. The scream becomes a haunted moan on “Pitted”, the brain-scrambling intensity lowering the listener into a hopeless depth, the title apparently the past tense of “to pit.”

The album closes on “Crawling on Bruised Knees”, the pain of those industrial synths suddenly replaced with a droning acceptance, the drive to march along to the thudding rhythm inescapable. Every strike is felt, in every sense. Chardiet tunnels into your brain, and yeah, that’s going to hurt. But the pain isn’t the endgame, just an inevitable rung on the ladder out. Even the sharpest pain, the deepest hell can be survived, and Abandon is a reminder of that.

Essential Tracks: “Milkweed/ It Hangs Heavy”, “Pitted”

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