Pharmakon and Moor Mother each find their own way to unite audiences through confrontation. Shattering sounds and razor-sharp poetry addressing struggle and loss infuse charismatic activist Moor Mother’s “project housing bop” and “blk girlblues.” Pharmakon’s vocal-chord shredding screams and visceral noise overwhelm with an abrasive intensity equally piercing as it is enveloping. Both artists were highlights of CTM 2017 Festival this past winter and are supporting recent releases: Pharmakon’s droning and strikingly deadly album, Contact (Sacred Bones), and Moor Mother’s The Motionless Present EP commissioned by Vinyl Factory on the occasion of CTM’s 18th edition.
Music for NYC’s power electronics proponent, Pharmakon aka Margaret Chardiet is a fundamental component in a process-based, rageful face-off with contemporary society. She returns to Berlin supporting her latest album, Contact. A founding member of the Red Light District collective for experimental artists in Far Rockaway, where she recorded her first CDs and cassettes as Pharmakon, Chardiet describes her drive to make noise music as something akin to an exorcism—it allows her to express her "deep-seated need/drive/urge/possession to reach other people and make them FEEL something [specifically] in uncomfortable/ confrontational ways." She struck a societal nerve with Abandon, her snarling debut studio album for Sacred Bones. Engineered by Sean Ragon of Cult of Youth at his self-built recording studio Heaven Street, the LP's nihilistic command over its listeners drew comparisons to Throbbing Gristle, Swans and Whitehouse. The aural equivalent of turning a body inside out, her follow-up, Bestial Burden, plunged even deeper into blood and gore.
Philadelphia native Camae Ayewa has inventively characterized her activist sound project Moor Mother with various self-coined, hybrid genres: “project housing bop”; “chill step”; “blk girlblues”; “slave rap”; “witch rap”; “coffee shop riot gurl songs”; “southern girl dittys”; “black ghost songs.” Her music is a vessel for addressing the history of struggle and loss and the necessity of rebellion and endurance in the American black community. Ayewa’s practice reflects an understanding of afrofuturism as a revisitation of the past and an acknowledgement of the present as its own sci-fi reality. She started Moor Mother Goddess or MMGz in 2012. Her latest LP, Fetish Bones, has been named as one of the best albums of 2016 by magazines such as The Wire, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. The music is often harsh and strange, projecting both the visceral anger of punk and the expansive improvisatory spirit of Sun Ra. The album attests to her belief in the importance of connecting with and processing the past. Via the album, she departs on an investigation and reportage of history “throughout the race riots from 1866 to the present time,” visiting specific moments, bearing angry witness, and taking on the cumulative weight of centuries of hardship.
The concert will be rounded out with the self-described "dubstractic junglist" Shins-K, who plays sets that roam freely across the borders of bass music, hip hop, techno and dub, defying genre with occasional forays into noise or traditional sounds from across Africa and the Middle East.