Pharmakon – “Self-Regulating System”
For more than a decade, the New York musician Margaret Chardiet has been making gut-churning industrial noise under the name Pharmakon. And later this summer, she’ll release Devour, her fourth full-length album. According to a press release, the album, which follows 2017’s Contact, is built around the idea of self-cannibalism, a potent metaphor for grief and self-destruction.
Chardiet recorded the new album with Ben Greenberg, currently of Uniform and formerly of the Men. For the first time ever, she recorded the entire album live in the studio, in two continuous sessions, one for each side of the album. She’s just shared lead single “Self-Regulating System,” and it’s a hissing, clanking cacophony built around feedback and her own raw-bellow vocals. She’s also made a grisly low-tech 40-second teaser video for the album. Below, check out “Self-Regulating System,” the teaser video, the album’s tracklist, and what Chardiet has to say about it.
Devour uses self-cannibalization as allegory for the self-destructive nature of humans; on cellular, individual, societal and species-wide scales. In our cells, our minds, our politics and our species, humans are self-destructing. But this behavior does not happen in a vacuum. It is an instinctive inward response to a world of increasing outward violence, greed, and oppression. Turning these wounds toward ourselves can be seen as an attempt at “balancing feedback,” within a never-ending positive feedback loop of cause and effect. With this view, the blame is placed not within the individual, but with the world they must contend with, and a society that is designed to fail them — to keep them gnashing and wailing, inflicted with an all-devouring hunger that inevitably turns in on the self. Those that pit them against each other grin from the sidelines, bellies full. Those who see beyond the veil need to obscure the horrid sight by any means necessary, but respite is always brief — nothing can dampen the glare from behind the veil. This album is dedicated to all who were lost to their own demise, all who have been institutionalized; whether in prison, psychiatric facilities, or drug rehabilitation. It is for all those ostracized by and isolated from a totality which chews them up alive in a self-cannibalizing caste system. Here, where martyrs, slaves, and pharmakos are not eradicated, but simply called by another name. “ABOUT THE SHALLOWNESS OF SANITY”… To be well adjusted in this system is to be oblivious and unfeeling. This is for the rest of us, who understand that chaos, madness, pain and even self-destruction are natural and inevitable responses to an unjust and disgusting world of our own making.
02 “Spit It Out”
03 “Self-Regulating System”
05 “Pristine Panic / Cheek By Jowl”
Devour is out 8/30 on Sacred Bones.