After a dark year, noise and power electronics operative Pharmakon is here to exorcise your demons—and her own. Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Chardiet was indoctrinated into extreme music early. She was smuggled into punk shows by her parents as a baby, and by seventeen she had become a figurehead of the underground experimental scene.
A founding member of the Red Light District collective for experimental artists in Far Rockaway, where she recorded her first CDs and cassettes as Pharmakon, Chardiet describes her drive to make noise music as something akin to an exorcism—it allows her to express her "deep-seated need/drive/urge/possession to reach other people and make them FEEL something [specifically] in uncomfortable/ confrontational ways." She struck a societal nerve with Abandon, her snarling debut studio album for Sacred Bones. Engineered by Sean Ragon of Cult of Youth at his self-built recording studio Heaven Street, the LP's nihilistic command over its listeners drew comparisons to Throbbing Gristle, Swans and Whitehouse.
Chardiet's second album, Bestial Burden, plunged even deeper into blood and gore; it was the aural equivalent of turning a body inside out. But it also accomplished something unusual in the world of noise music, as Pitchfork noted: a refining of its abrasive tropes and tools. "The sense of control that she wields over this nasty, fire-breathing music—a push-and-push-harder tension between pummeling rhythms, swaths of power-electronics static, and her impressive, chilling howl—provides a sense of structure that makes this very out-there music easy to grasp for those outside of noise music circles," a reviewer wrote. It's catharsis, it's agony, it's both.