Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

by paul_guyet Rating:6.5 Release Date:2014-10-13

I'm having a little trouble here... In a nutshell, I think that context is 100 per cent necessary to 'get' Bestial Burden. However, I also think that this isn't something people are going to just stumble onto. Last time I checked, there weren't a lot of industrial noise bands on Top of the Pops. Anyway, more on that later; let's get this started.

After some prolonged, disturbingly lusty (or lustily disturbing?) panting, the album begins... slowly... loudly... with 'Intent or Instinct', which features a squalling guitar loop and thumping, grinding beat, overlaid with the jagged, broken shrieking of Margaret Chardiet. This is followed by 'Body Betrays Itself', which sounds a lot like the proceeding track, except that the screaming stops about halfway before things just melt away. Next is, 'Primitive Struggle' aka 'Just Over Two Minutes of Someone Vomiting Set to a Metallic Drum Beat'. Things continue after this fashion.

So, here's the thing: the impetus for this album is fascinating; Chardiet, a native New Yorker in her early 20s, went in for some unplanned surgery and, after some unforeseen complications, ended up bed-ridden for almost a month, during which time she experienced a schism between her mind and body and wrote most of the album. Bestial Burden tells of that schism and the feelings of imprisonment and betrayal Chardiet underwent during recovery, the feeling that her body was trying to harm her, that it was just some rotting prison for her mind.

Really interesting subject matter, yeah? Without knowing that, I'm not sure if, perhaps, the form gets in the way of the content. I'm the last person who would ever hear something like Bestial Burden and say "It's just some woman screaming... She sounds angry," but, if you don't know what she's screaming about...

Chardiet's fury and hatred and disgust for her body and what it's done to her is palpable here, like clumps of hot, sticky meat on your face, but the manner in which it's presented (the repetitive, near-identical soundscapes) tend to get in the way and detract from the story itself. Which is disappointing, because I'd like to experience it. I could see this working better with a video component, a short film maybe. In the end, it doesn't matter how good the book is if the text and pages are the same color.

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