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Music Review

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Artist: Pharmakon
Label: Sacred Bones Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 30 August 2019

Sacred Bones Records releases Devour, by Pharmakon, available to download or stream. Pharmakon was formed in 2007 by New York-based Margaret Chardiet. Devour is her fourth full-length project, this time incorporating denser electronics, melodic hooks and what is described as moments of ‘unhinged’ vocal deliveries. Tracks include: 'Homeostasis'; 'Spit It Out'; 'Self Regulating System'; 'Deprivation'; and 'Pristine Panic Cheek By Jowl' – although Pharmakon (meaning in the literal sense: Remedy, Poison and Scapegoat) prefers to have the material digested as simply Side 1 and Side 2, as the music runs into each other and should be experienced as a whole...

It is curious that I mention the word ‘digested’ as Margaret Chardiet’s entire concept here concerns consumption and in particular self-cannibalisation. It’s an allegory for the self-destruction of mankind. Each song concentrates on a stage of grief via violence, greed and oppression – which in turn drives us towards a feedback balance aimed at ourselves. It is dedicated to all those who have been institutionalised or ostracised by a society which chews them up. It’s certainly a very interesting idea which belongs more to a novel (Animal Farm, anybody?) than a noise-driven scream from the ether.

Whilst appreciating the concept, I fail to understand the music. Spanning the divide between sound and theatre, this simply comes across as incoherent noise. The vocals simply scream monosyllabically and without tune. The electronic backdrop is low and without any real melody. The only individual points I can make is to state that 'Self Regulating System' has a vaguely Industrial feel, and that 'Deprivation' begins with a spooky vibe. I have given this release two separate airings, believing I may not have been open-minded enough on the first outing, but I’m sorry to say it hasn’t changed my initial view. Not for me.


Ty Power

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