Pharmakon finds a new rhythm on “Self-Regulating System”

Jeff Terich
Pharmakon self-regulating system

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

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