Pharmakon has announced a new album, Devour, out August 30 on Sacred Bones. It’s Margaret Chardiet’s fourth album with the label, and her first new music since the release of 2017’s Contact. As a preview of things to come, Chardiet has released Devour‘s first single, “Self-Regulating System,” which deals in the kind of visceral, somatic noise she’s been refining over the past ten years. It’s an urgent, pulsing howl of a track, with obscured shouts and metallic screeches creeping in over the course of its nearly six and a half-minute runtime.
Chardiet shared a lengthy statement along with the album announcement, which examines concepts of phamarkon (the drug, the change-agent), pharmakos (the ritual sacrifice, the cultural scapegoat), and the relationship between individuals and societal structures of oppression. Check out a short teaser video for Devour below, along with the tracklist, first single “Self-Regulating System,” and Chardiet’s complete meditation on the “self-cannibalizing caste system” as creative framework.
2. “Spit It Out”
3. “Self-Regulating System”
5. “Pristine Panic / Cheek by Jowl”
“Devour” uses self-cannibalization as allegory for the self-destructive nature of humans; on cellular, individual, societal and species-wide scales. In our cells, our minds, our politics and our species, humans are self-destructing. But this behavior does not happen in a vacuum. It is an instinctive inward response to a world of increasing outward violence, greed, and oppression. Turning these wounds toward ourselves can be seen as an attempt at “balancing feedback”, within a never-ending positive feedback loop of cause and effect. With this view, the blame is placed not within the individual, but with the world they must contend with, and a society that is designed to fail them—to keep them gnashing and wailing, inflicted with an all-devouring hunger that inevitably turns in on the self. Those that pit them against each other grin from the sidelines, bellies full. Those who see beyond the veil need to obscure the horrid sight by any means necessary, but respite is always brief—nothing can dampen the glare from behind the veil. This album is dedicated to all who were lost to their own demise, all who have been institutionalized; whether in prison, psychiatric facilities, or drug rehabilitation. It is for all those ostracized by and isolated from a totality which chews them up alive in a self-cannibalizing caste system. Here, where martyrs, slaves, and pharmakos are not eradicated, but simply called by another name. “ABOUT THE SHALLOWNESS OF SANITY”…. To be well adjusted in this system is to be oblivious and unfeeling. This is for the rest of us, who understand that chaos, madness, pain and even self-destruction are natural and inevitable responses to an unjust and disgusting world of our own making.