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Pharmakon - Contact [Sacred Bones - 2017]

Sacred Bones presents Contact, the 3rd full-length by Pharmakon. I rarely get hyped these days in anticipation of a particular release, especially in noise circles, where I’m often feeling  overwhelmed with the amount of music I receive through trades and gifts. However, after many, many repeated plays of her previous efforts, Abandon and Bestial Burden, I made a point to pre-order the album at hand. Available in vinyl and digital formats, Contact marks the 10th anniversary of Margaret Chardiet’s Pharmakon. While Chardiet’s efforts have found some deserved acclaim beyond the noise underground, her brand of industrial noise has remained uncompromising and gritty over past decade.

While Pharmakon’s previous album Bestial Burden dealt with the conflict between consciousness and the body, Contact deals with the mind transcending the body. She equates her live performance to trance states; the transcendence of the physical through music to make contact with an outside force. That might sound a little mystical, a little new-agey, but considering my closest religious experiences have always come within the context of a show, sharing and feeding off the energy of strangers, coming together for a common purpose, it’s really not that strange a concept. Reproducing that transcendence through the physical object, i.e. the record, is no easy feat, yet Chardiet seems to pull it off convincingly well.

Contact offers 6 tracks of dense, plodding nightmare electronics. Right out the gate, “Nakedness of Need,” sucks the listener in with a hypnotic mix of pulsing funeral dirges and vocal stylings that go from slurred spoken word to blood curdling screaming. “Sentient” offers one of two straight noise tracks on the album. “Transmission” offers repetitive sputtering synth tones, rapid pulsing and a slightly restrained Chardiet that dissolves into the much more somber “Sleepwalking Form.” “Somatic,” the 2nd vocal less track on the album melds looping metal feedback with crunching noise static. “No Natural Order” closes the album shop floor machinery churning, eerie synth creeping and vicious vocals.

I didn’t quite make the connection between four stages of trance with the structure of the compositions, but nevertheless, Contact is a truly horrific effort from beginning to end.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Hal Harmon
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