Pharmakon Bestial Burden

PharmakonBestial Burden
8
There's always been an intense physicality to Margaret Chardiet's music as Pharmakon; the throat-shredding screams she pairs with throbbing slabs of noise are enough to make you want to reach for a warm mug of lemon-honey tea on her behalf. Pharmakon's second album, Bestial Burden, goes one step further in that. This time around, Chardiet's creative process is directly tied to her undergoing major surgery right before she was to begin work on the music. (The organs-on-sleeve album art is sort of a dead giveaway, not unlike the packaging of Fantomas' under-appreciated medical epic, Delirium Cordia.)

Divided roughly into two parts, Bestial Burden opens with the sound of agitated heavy breathing, the rhythm of which becomes the basis for the noisy pulse of both "Intent or Instinct" and "Body Betrays Itself," which seamlessly flow together. Similarly, the hacking coughs and subsequent spitting heard throughout the two minutes of "Primitive Struggle" set up the jarring staccato beats that propel penultimate tune, "Autoimmune," to a feverish aural assault. It's that song's high-frequency feedback that proves to be the key element here; sounding like an EKG on the verge of a meltdown, the pervasive squeal continues thought the title-tack finale, on which Chardiet's spoken word delivery resembles an literal internal conflict between body and mind. While ultimately less "musical" than some of the ambient industrial sounds of Pharmakon's 2011 debut, Bestial Burden is immensely captivating and exquisitely structured, another unique offering from an unparalleled artist. (Sacred Bones)