Pharmakon – Devour: Album Review

Label: Sacred Bones

Formats: CD / LP / DD

Released: 30th August 2019 (Out Now)

Whilst frequently steeped in meaning, Margarat Chardiet’s music is just as well appreciated with no awareness of the context attached by its creator. Yet in experiencing Devour, it is seemingly impossible to separate the music from its definition; the lyrical content and musical context are complimentary to the extent that one is an expression of the other, both of equal value to the whole.

After reading the initial press for Devour, one might expect of it the kind of relentless squall which would prescribe an all-consuming and unnerving disposition in the listener in much the same way that subjecting ones self to continuous white noise might instil the sense of peace only achievable by excluding ones environment. However, whilst using sounds of similar timbre to create a coherent whole, each piece is distinctly separate from the last with a clear progression from the introduction of sparse, lumbering themes to their eventual suffocation under cataclysmic noise; a dynamic which provides a listening experience wholly more acute than relentless barrage.

Throughout the record repeated themes are subdued to the background as pieces progress, promoting a mild sense of comfort in familiarity whilst abrasive and volatile components are introduced to impose a sustained sense of unease in this seemingly unending battle of noise on noise.

On Spit it Out, Pharmakon uses this thematic repetition most boldly to create a siren-like accompaniment to a punitively shrieked and near-incomprehensible edict of despair, all under the shadow of a constant and piercing drill.

Only at the arrival of Deprivation are we provided with a break in the sound, a stark dynamic contrast which serves well as a moment of reconciliation to accent the otherwise oppressive weight of this album.

The fade-out at the end of Pristine Panic/Cheek by Jowl suitably gives the sense of persistence beyond the end of this sonic event rather than what might usually be interpreted as a lazy inability to conclude. There is no solution offered here, no consonance to resolve the dissonance, only continuation to an end out of sight.

Devour is a dynamic yet elementally sparse body of work filled with contrast and conflict. This in spite of short timbrel range and the use of balance, filling every inch of perceptible frequency, is testament to the sympathy of Ben Greenberg’s production to Chardiet’s vision. Its brevity and sense of urgency purveys magnificently the frantic despair of an alert constituent to our apathetic descent into self-inflicted immutable oblivion, whilst begrudgingly coming to terms with its own eventual demise.

Pharmakon Online: Bandcamp

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