To listen to Pharmakon is to stare the beast straight in the mouth. Margaret Chardiet’s latest album starts with heavy breathing, panting and a buzzing synth that sounds more like an electroshock therapy machine. “Intent or Instinct” builds deliberately with an atonal loop gathering strength until she unleashes a nasty banshee wail. Free of too much digitized effect, it sounds truly bloodcurdling. It’s also immensely cathartic. And “Body Betrays Itself” feels like it takes over your very being, her most powerful musical statement to date. Not everything in such harsh surroundings works—“Primitive Struggle” is about as inviting as it sounds, full of coughing, spitting and heaving along to a digital heartbeat. But Chardiet can really surprise you, too. “Autoimmune” actually nudges closer to something resembling pop, like the dirtiest Trent Reznor would ever let his hands get. And in the incantation of the title track, Chardiet’s actual, human voice can be heard, albeit echoed out into infinity, and the result is quite affecting, given how she shreds her voice across the rest of the record. So Bestial Burden isn’t for the faint of heart. Dismiss it and you might even get a laugh out of its relentless brutality. But give it your full attention, and it just might change you. So don’t be afraid. Dive in and let Bestial Burden swallow you whole. Note: If you like her records, you should probably see her live.
The second annual Cassette Store Day is coming this Saturday Sept. 27! We’ll have just-released cassettes at the front sampler section at Amoeba Hollywood and in front at Berkeley and S.F. Plus, 15% off all used cassettes at Amoeba SF only. Here are some releases to look for …
1349 – Massive Cauldron of Chaos
An early release by black metal greats 1349! Personally, I think the lo-fi aesthetic of Black Metal sounds amazing on cassette. The LP and CD come out Sept. 30 on Seasons of Mist.
The Adolescents - The Complete Demos 1980-1986
Consisting mostly of tracks recorded in 1980, The Complete Demos is kind of like the punk band’s unofficial first album.
Out Sept. 23
The Internet pretty much exploded when Richard D. James announced Syro, and with good reason. It’s the ambient/electronic artist’s first album in 13 years, and from the sound of the glorious “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]” (OMG vocals), it’ll have been worth the wait.
Out Sept. 23
A hopped-up Kendrick Lamar has no problem keeping up with Flying Lotus’ jazz-inflected twists and turns in this masterful slab of head-churning beatwork. Particularly when that steady beat comes in about a minute in, this thing is intense. It might be the most propulsive thing we’ve heard from FlyLo yet. It’s definitely got us even more excited for You’re Dead, which is due Oct. 7 (preorder on LP or CD).
Foxygen – “Cosmic Vibrations”
California-born psychedelic pop band Foxygen have unveiled another song from the upcoming …And Star Power album (due Oct. 17, preorder on LP or CD), and it’s an eerie, slow-burning duet of sorts between frontmen Sam France and Jonathan Rado, who trade spacey observations over a low-key Western backdrop. Great, gloriously wasted stuff. Then that ending …
Just about everyone could agree on “Get Lucky” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” but there were lots of other great singles and album cuts released this year. Here are 21 you can download from Amoeba.com right now. Pretty sure these could just top out a 120-minute cassette tape, if my high school calculations are correct. Check out my top 50 albums list, too!
Kurt Vile – “KV Crimes”
Kurt Vile's Wakin on a Pretty Daze is a great, melodically hazy stoner-rock record, but "KV Crimes" hits hard, like a song Tom Petty would kick out in five minutes and decide he was too stoned when he wrote it and leave it on the cutting-room floor for some bullshit like "Free Fallin'." Kurt Vile is like our more enlightened Petty, one who knows that off-the-cuff tracks can be the best.
From the album Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Savages – “I Am Here”