Casually listening to a Pharmakon song isn’t really an option. Once Margaret Chardiet’s electronics creep to life and the blood-curdling primal screams exit her throat, you’re operating on her terms and that’s how it’s going to be until the last distorted echo fades away. So it goes for “Self-Regulating System,” the first track released from her fourth album, and another intense descent into Chardiet’s terrifying underworld. But something’s different—it’s rhythmic, pulsing, there’s even something of a groove. By Chardiet’s standards, this clanging, chugging waltz is a certifiable banger, not quite danceable, but still immediate enough to warrant a tap or even a head nod. She’s certainly inched toward immediacy before, in moments on her standout past albums Bestial Burden and Contact, but she does so here with more of a sense of order, even a little swing. The machines squeal, the gears grind, and Chardiet still shrieks like she’s attempting to open a rift in the fabric of existence with only her vocal cords, but for once her brand of industrial creeps a little bit closer to “Hot On the Heels of Love” than “Hamburger Lady.” A little bit.
From Devour, out August 30 via Sacred Bones
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.