Monday, 24 November 2014

Pharmakon "Abandon" (2013)

Hailing from New York, USA, Pharmakon is the moniker of Power Noise musician Margaret Chardiet. "Abandon" is her debut full length that confronts the listener musically and visually with its repulsive album art that is powerfully suggestive without any use of explicit imagery. It sets the tone for a depraved and dark record that will unsettle the listener. Unlike much music of this nature Margaret's compositions are in fact composed as opposed to improvisational pieces so often found in Power Noise and Depraved music. It is testament to this record where each track sets an immersible tone by design and explores the darker reaches of the mind with purpose and intent.

The instrumentals of this record are carefully woven soundscapes that brood and drone through lengthy periods. Detailed power synthesizers create an array of textured sounds that are stitched together with a minimalistic edge, forging a cold and unforgiving noise dragged along by slow, bludgeoning thuds and hits resembling a beat to guide a psychotic narrative. On their own the instrumentals are not as intense or abrasive as the overall mood of these songs, individually the instruments are not ear piecing or especially dark, more alien and industrial, but brought together they become nightmarish and dizzying experiences.

Margaret's biggest asset is her voice. The instrumentals set the tone, but it is her phenomenal scream and range of sound that drags you down to hell. Using some slight reverb and at times some additional distortion, these vocals cover a range of dark emotions, at times sounding like a tortured soul held against will, or a malevolent spirit that would inflict such torturous cruelty. On the track "Ache" you hear the two almost at communication with one another. On "Pitted" she executes some tribal, ritualistic clean leads that chant and dance through the fog. The overall execution and production of this record is solid, the crafted nature of the instrumentals and powerful vocals create a confrontational and immersible listening experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Favorite Tracks: Pitted, Crawling On Bruised Knees
Rating: 6/10