Coughing. Breathing heavily. Rhythmically banging sheets of metal. Confronting mortality – confronting anything that might get in her way. New York artist Pharmakon. a.k.a. Margaret Chardiet has been snarling, wailing, baring her soul to global audiences for a decade now in a maelstrom of noise and power electronics. Through a raw and visceral process, Pharmakon unleashes her inner demons in full view, striking an enviable balance between strength and vulnerability. Her music lays at the opposite end of easy listening, and not just because of the ear-splitting, unapologetic noise – but because you can’t escape the moment, ultimately confronting concealed weaknesses and uttermost passions.
Pharmakon, Coteries, New Castrati
Friday, April 14 | 8–11:30pm
Brooklyn Night Bazaar |
150 Greenpoint Ave @ Manhattan | Greenpoint, Brooklyn
G-Greenpoint | 8pm | $13+ | all ages
It’s a sort of exorcism that Chardiet has introduced since her very beginnings as a 17-year-old musician, releasing a series of cassette tapes and CD-Rs, and co-founding the Red Light District collective. The last one took extreme noise and experimental music as far as…Far Rockaway, the easternmost part of the Rockaway peninsula, in Queens – probably not where your average music fan would go gig-hunting. Her debut Abandon saw the light in May 2013, courtesy of Sacred Bones Records, where tracks like “Crawling On Bruised Knees” lay among terrorizing thuds and demonic, distorted vocals.
Pharmakon live at Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit – MOCAD
After recovering from a crippling illness, Pharmakon released Bestial Burden in 2014, featuring an in-your-face cover where her naked body was covered in raw meat. In a statement accompanying the release, she said, “I felt a widening divide between my physical and mental self…I began to explore the idea of the conscious mind as a stranger inside an autonomous vessel, and the tension that exists between these two versions of the self”. There, tracks like “Body Betrays Itself” and “Primitive Struggle” faced the inevitable question of what it means to be human, making similar enquiries into oneself practically unavoidable.
Inspired by philosophy, as much as construction sites, Pharmakon makes music on synths and sheets of metal, looping and voice editing in a mind-altering sound puzzle that each of the listeners has to decode for themselves. Field recordings, pedals and the sound of objects forcefully thrown onto the concrete floor also haunt her recordings and performances, seeking a reaction to a nearly lethargic, mechanic way of living. Her third album Contact is released on March 31st, before a tour that will take her to several European and North American cities. “Man is a rabid dog, straining at its leash of mortality with bared teeth”, Chardiet says this time, following an album that cries for empathy and, obviously, contact “…when thought escapes its isolation and is seen, heard and understood”.
Pharmakon – Somatic (Official Music Video) from ‘Contact,’ out now.
Order LP/CD/Digital: http://hyperurl.co/Contact
Things here are not going to be easy either – and that’s exactly what makes it so fascinating. The music is just as confrontational, the shrieks just as uneasy, our relationship with her creative confessions, quite possibly, just as uncomfortable. But this is where, ultimately, our defenses are dropped and seek to reach out to those of us who feel the same. “…The moments of connection/communion/CONTACT, when the veil is for a brief but glorious moment lifted, and we are free”.
Live performance at FORM Festival 2015, Arcosanti, Arizona
Performance @ The Print Shop, MOMA, as a part of Mike Kelly’s Night at the Museum 2014.
Visuals by Taylor Sakarett.
Live @ Saint Vitus Bar, Brooklyn, New York, 2014
Pharmakon live in Argentina, 2015. Credit: Dreamstates TV
Live @ 16 Tons Club, Moscow, Russia, 2013