The release date of Contact marks the ten-year anniversary of Margaret Chardiet’s project, Pharmakon. While working on her newest release, she began to evaluate the project as a whole. Though the content of each record has been very different and specific, the pervading question, which has underlined them all, is what is means to be human. Her last album, Bestial Burden, focused on the disconnect between mind and body, looking at the human as an isolated consciousness stuck inside of a rotting vessel. For Contact, she wanted to look at the other side of the spectrum – the moments when our mind can come outside of and transcend our bodies.
photo courtesy of Caroline Schub
Because an album is itself an object, she struggled with how to convey the transcendence of the physical, through a physical medium. She started to study trance states and equate her live performances to them. In trance states, music and the body are used to transcend the physical form and make contact with some outside force. In the live setting, she used sound and her body to create an exchange of energy and make contact with outside forces – humanity, empathy, the audience. This energy/empathy exchange has always been at the heart of a Pharmakon performance, but she felt that on records, it wasn’t translating. They were one-sided and flat – declarations rather than conversations. She decided to structure the compositions of each side of Contact after the four stages of trance: preparation, onset, climax, and resolution. By using these stages as a biorhythm for the album, she animates it, and instills the intention of communion into the music.