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Album Review

Pharmakon – “Devour” [Album Review]

Margaret Chardiet returns yet again under Pharmakon, with another visceral sonic attack on the senses. Continuing to improve and refine her sound, Devour (Sacred Bones) is a conduit of frustration towards the world in which we live.



If there is a single project one could use as a raw, powerful exhibition of the human psyche, it’s Pharmakon. Created by New Yorker Margaret Chardiet, Pharmakon has showcased an individual concept within each of its four full releases, with self-awareness, personal life experiences, and the vulgarity of human existence themating its previous work. This year, we see Chardiet tackling the cyclical frustrations of mankind’s self-destructive nature with her upcoming release, Devour.

Devour (pre-order on Bandcamp) kicks off with droning electronics, and Chardiet’s signature distorted vocals in “Homeostasis” creating an immediately uncomfortable and powerful wall of sound, whereby frustration, despair, and disgust become apparent and, later, abundant emotions. Pharmakon reaches new sonic levels in Devour, with Chardiet pushing the preconceived limits of genre boundaries further. Her musical foundation is still there, in harsh electronic and industrial barrages of sound, but is intensified and refined since 2017’s Contact.

If you’re not into it, then “Spit It Out.” But know that we will judge you.

Differently, to Pharmakon’s other releases, Devour was recorded in two live takes – Side A (“Homeostasis,” “Spit It Out,” and “Self-Regulating System”) and Side B (“Deprivation” and “Pristine Panic / Cheek By Jowl”). This gave Chardiet free reign to create a sound as similar to her live performances as possible, and it works to maximum effect. In Devour, the damning droning and piercing vocals work hand in hand to create a real, raw, and relentless outburst of emotion as we sink into the sheer brutality of her musical approach, and are enraptured in looping, droning, piercing shrieks and instrumental frequencies. “Self-Regulating System” does just this before unleashing “Deprivation” upon the listener – a relentless, striking attack on the senses which stands out as one of Chardiet’s most intense pieces yet.

In a statement on Devour, Chardiet says the record is for those “who understand that chaos, madness, pain and even self-destruction are natural and inevitable responses to an unjust and disgusting world of our own making.” “Spit It Out” displays this raw burst of emotion brilliantly – dentist drill-esque drones and mechanical, industrial whirring in the background akin to sirens or mechanistic wails pair with Chardiet’s outcries, making an immediately intense soundscape which compels one to look within themselves and at the world we live in. There is a naturality to it which highlights the effectiveness of Chardiet’s work – it is a real portrayal of the symbiosis of the human suffering, and the world which both encapsulates and intensifies it.

This single is part of a larger “Self​-​Regulating System:”

Devour is a visceral, violent, yet gorgeously accurate exhibition of human suffering and a result of the chaotic world we live in. Chardiet’s raw, one-take exhibition of her sound has made Devour her strongest and most passionate release to date, with the refinement of already established elements, and incorporations of new ones, creating a powerful punch you simply cannot ignore. Here, Pharmakon is at its finest, and the closest rendition to a powerful live performance one can get without witnessing it in person. As she progresses with her sound and messages, we see Chardiet becoming the queen of experimental noise in the underground.

Devour Track Listing:

Side A:
01. Homeostasis
02. Spit It Out
03. Self-Regulating System

Side B:
04. Deprivation
05. Pristine Panic / Cheek By Jowl

Run Time:
Release Date: August 30th, 2019
Record Label: Sacred Bones

Journalism student in the UK. Avid concert-goer, amateur photographer, gig promoter. When he isn't rambling about the state of journalism, attempting to write poetry, or playing Skyrim for the 50th time, he's usually surrounded by coffee and listening to Balakirev or Hypothermia.