Shabda: Pharmakon/Pharmakos

Lysergic rites from Northern Italy’s shadowy outposts

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Do you think Bong are a bit too commercial? Disappointed by the minimal Middle-Eastern and South Asian traditional instrumentation and chanting on the later Om records? Well, firstly, what’s wrong with you – have you recently taken a severe kick to the head from a horse?

And secondly, while you await your test results, get your malfunctioning grey mass around Pharmakon/Pharmakos, the third LP from ultra-reclusive Italian trio Shabda. Created by these “voluntary hermits” in their base in the remote area of Canavese, Piedmont, Northern Italy, Pharmakon/Pharmakos’s two 20-minute tracks – or ‘suites’ as the group refer to them – traverse everything from traditional, sitar-augmented Hindustani drone and almost Tuvan-like chants and vocal harmonies reminiscent of German avant-gardists Popol Vuh to earthquaking doom guitars, and the sort of furious percussion that’ll be familiar to fans of The Body.

Opener Pharmakon, based around a traditional Indian raga, displays the widest scope, but it’s the discordant relentlessness of Pharmakos that proves most disturbingly transcendental.