'Body Betrays Itself' by Pharmakon
Pharmakon’s eviscerating aural assaults are a destructive force. She tore into every fibre of her being for last year’s Abandon, shredding vocal chords and spewing bile as if to purge all forms of her corporeal existence. If Abandon was ultimately about rejection, what happens when you no longer have the choice? What happens when the very body you thought you controlled begins to reject you, instead?
This question is central to Margaret Chardiet’s upcoming release, Bestial Burden. It was recorded in the wake of a severe health scare earlier this year which resulted in major surgery and a fairly intense recovery period. "I felt a widening divide between my physical and mental self. It was as though my body had betrayed me, acting as a separate entity from my consciousness," she writes.
The first single is as chilling as you’d expect, a despairing mix of industrial clangour and funereal drone. The rhythmic dirge at its core sounds like a heaving, heart-shaped machine on the brink of utter collapse.
In giving voice to the horror of the body, Pharmakon picks up where one of my favourite albums left off. Delìrium Còrdia, released in 2004 by noise/metal group Fantômas, was similarly inspired by a series of medical photographs depicting open body surgery. Included in the liner notes is a modified quote by Dr. Richard Selzer. It reads: "Like the surgeon, the composer slashes open the body of his fellow man, removes his eyes, empties his abdomen of organs, hangs him up on a hook holding up to the light all of the body’s palpitating treasures sending a burst of light into its innermost depths."
The quote was originally about photographers; perhaps sensing an artistic kinship, Fantômas adapted it to say “composer.” Chardiet can relate all too well.