Margaret Chardiet's adaptation of Pharmakon to a studio setting pits the project against itself. Lauded for live shows which crumble the audience/performer boundary, Chardiet seems an unlikely recording artist. Pharmakon presents as a project living under specific circumstances, in specific spaces. It's physical, confrontational, instinctual; all the irreplicable beauties unique to live music.
Though recorded in a different room and time, Devour proves brutal enough to invade one's spiritual space. Your headphones, or speakers, become the profaned stage. Chardiet the apparition, diluted in the inches above your skin, raises goosebumps with her ferocity.
Devour owes this to a shaken-up recording process, with each side of the album committed in a single take. Room is permitted for beautiful imperfections, and Chardiet remains whole, not chopped to bits in the edit. This contributes an organic flow to the album. Tracks nudge up so naturally it's near-impossible to listen to them in isolation. The album succeeds most as constructed, in one piece. Inescapable once met, it grips like a vice then lets you go.
The downside is that previous LPs’ scaffolding is bared, their fury rendered somehow clinical. But it was a wise decision to step back. Any more bombast than present on 2017's Contact could initiate collapse into self-parody. And an emphasis on variety over volume in Devour prevents Chardiet erupting over the windshield into a sonic dead end.
Devour renews hope for a project which, in less extraordinary and committed hands, would have long since expended itself. Chardiet reaffirms her talent with a forceful sonic ejection right into her fans' faces.
Devour is ready for consumption here.
Words by Andrew O’Keefe