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Straight on Target: Pharmakos

I remember the first time I learned about the concept of synesthesia. If I recall it correctly, it has something to do with senses crossing over into each other. The Wikipedia page for the term uses expressions like "loud shirt," "bitter wind," or "prickly laugh" to demonstrate the ways synesthesia crosses senses. I mention all this only because one of the tracks on this album is entitled "Synesthesia" and made me wonder what it was trying to say. As I listened to it, I got the impression it was commenting on the way the ubiquity of media in Western culture is confusing our senses. Near the end of the song, an audio clip, commonly used these days, refers to the way we are constantly surrounded by marketing forces trying to grab out attention. It was interesting.

Pharmakos, the album title, is also interesting because the term, at least in its original Greek usage, refers to both a cure and a poison, a point made much of by present-day philosophers. I suppose the duality of the name is apt; this album, after all, is something of a blessing and a curse. It's a debut release by a band that already has a pretty good following by fans. It's also open to increased scrutiny and criticism by new listeners (and writers). My own verdict is pretty simple: it's a good album, but not one that I'd listen to over and over again. I really liked the last two tracks, the aforementioned "Synesthesia," and "Palm Leaves Readers." This last track has a really interesting ending; the song concludes, only to leave listeners with another minute or so of a simple tone mixed with an occasional audio clip of someone talking. It was a cool way to wrap things up.

The other tracks on the album are good, if a little less dramatically presented. The songs are generally hewn from the same wood and don't vary things as much as they could have done. The vocals are especially repetitive, offering little more than a low growl, one not always articulated well. I like it when there's more of an attempt to make lyrics comprehensible, especially when they are wrestling with engaging topics.

Track Listing:
1. Theta
2. Ostrakon
3. Demonized
4. Wake the Apathetic
5. Dreadful Eyes
6. Initiation
7. He Spreads Hypocrisy
8. Synesthesia
9. Palm Leaves Readers

Added: February 6th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1436
Language: english

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