The Greek word ‘pharmakon,’ riddled with bizarre contradiction, refers to both a poison and a medicine. In ancient times, the related term ‘pharmakos’ was used to refer to a criminal, slave or deformed person who would be cast off from society as a scapegoat during times of famine or violence (and were often bombarded with stones as they ran from the city). Yet these same people were often considered ‘medicine men;’ in other words, the people that the city found most repulsive were also their saviors.
A similarly perplexing duality runs through Contact , Maragret Chardiet’s latest album as Pharmakon. Contact exists in two places at once: its arrangements, comprised largely of a harsh clatter of distorted percussion, piercing, nail-on-chalkboard synthesizers, and Chardiet’s scalding howl, evoke a cruel and meaningless world. Yet the album’s creation, as Chardiet explained on yet another day of weird weather in New York City, is rooted far more in wary hopefulness than nihilism or despair. Through these six compositions, she doesn’t so much conjure the apocalypse than to inspire the listener to find power within.
Listen to Contact in full exclusively at Bandcamp Dailly: