Christ, it’s like being in the middle of an industrial cyber war. Distant and organised screaming punctuate this very dark edition of Dr Who. Throbbing electronic sounds are at the epicentre. Margaret Chardiet’s Pharmakon project is in its tenth year, and unlike her previous work “Bestial Burden” which looks internally at human isolation, in this one our mind leaves and even transcends our body. To get us in the mood “Nakedness of Need” is like being tortured and dismembered. We can now proceed on our distinctly unmerry way.
We swirl round, as if in space. Warp factor 4? It’s a ghastly but hypnotic mess we find ourselves in as “Sentient” sums up our uncontrollable floating through electronic fields. Who’s in control? There’s no answer of course. A steady electronic heartbeat and periodic thump take over. As if the undefined vessel has burst, it goes into frenetic overdrive. Indecipherable vocal emissions match the electronic sound waves. They’re not in harmony. I guess no psychiatric help is available in this tormented soundscape. Does Ms Chardiet know Wumpscut, I wonder? A power electronics, death-industrial project is what they call this horror fest by the lady from New York. As we drift round helplessly, we are subject to those cosmically inspired industrial beatings. Not that Ms Chardiet sounds as if she’s entirely lucid. In fact this is a violent world of hallucination. Nice. If my car were producing the sound like on “Sleepwalking Form”, I’d be taking it into my mechanic John. It’s as if the wheel bearings are falling off. This is no sleep walk. This is a nightmare, which continues with the distorted, obscure and grinding noises. For a brief moment I imagined Ephel Duath, at least in a vocal sense, as I listened to the screams amid the mechanistic “No Natural Order”. The audible warning sounds constantly and ever harshly as if a nuclear disaster is about to happen. But there’s nowhere to evacuate to. The warning continues and penetrates our brain. Chaos is over and around us. Ms Chardiet sounds like she’s being strangled before the door finally shuts. Or is she being exterminated by overwhelming non-human forces? Not a good day in the office, really.
In the old days you’d have taken this record back to the shop and reported it as defective, to be told that it’s experimental and supposed to sound like this. If this is what’s it’s like to come out of one’s body, then all I can say it’s a bit of a catastrophe on the other side. “Contact” is other-worldliness at its most gruesome and extreme.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)