Pharoah Chromium


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Electric Cremation (2011), 7/10
Vodou Rallizes (2013), 7.5/10 (EP)
Chromosphere (2015), 6/10
Gaza (2015), 6/10
Eros + Massacre (2019), 6/10
Links:

Ghazi Barakat, born in 1965 in Germany, the son of a Palestinian diplomat, started out in a punk-rock band, Burst Appendix, documented on Mars Unveiled (1988) and the EP Fly (1989). After moving to California, in 1993 he started a garage-rock project, the Golden Showers, documented posthumously on The Golden Showers (1999). Fascinated by pornography, Barakat also curated the art exhibition "Sex And Subversion" at San Diego's Museum Of Death and contributed an essay to "Apocalypse Culture II" (2000), the follow-up to Adam Parfrey's underground bestseller "Apocalypse Culture" (1987). Back in Germany, he became vocalist "Iznogood" of Stereo Total and then he started Boy from Brazil, documented on Pointless Shoes (2004), with songs such as Out of the Past that pay tribute to the Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones and the Stooges. That project was continued with the Assassinations, documented on Future Blasts From The Past (2008), under the influence of the Butthole Surfers.

Abandoning rock music altogether, Ghazi Barakat named his next project Pharoah Chromium after a Chrome song and turned to electronic music. Electric Cremation (2011) contains four lengthy electronic collages. Arabic (20:34) destroys and rebuilds found voices inside a gloomy electronic cloud. Atomic (17:13) is a merry-go-round of sonic events: stately organ lines, county-fair music, goofy synth-pop, female declamation, psychedelic distortion, macabre droning, sci-fi interplanetary signals, quiet radioactive waves, etc.
More abstract and violent musique concrete detonates Feral (20:17). After ten minutes of ear-splitting hisses and a chaotic frenzy of distortions, the music transforms into a symphony of psychedelic drones produced by ethnic wind and string instruments, progressively contaminated and eventually buried by crackling noise and psychedelic organ.
Ghost (18:52) is immersed in a darker atmosphere of cryptic rumbles, dub-like reverbs, raga-like drones and cosmic electronic vibrations.

Pharoah Chromium collaborated with Vincent Epplay and Arnaud Maguet of Bader Motor, who in 2008 had devoted an album to psychoactive plants (Musique Pour Les Plantes Des Dieux), on the imaginary soundtrack Azurazia (2012). He contributed two sides of the double-LP, mainly manipulated field recordings from Morocco: Morning Sodium Azuramuezz - Walter Hamid Ventilaspasm Antonov 242 - Landing at Sourakdim Kim (16:53) and Sidi Ayoub - Evaporated Hopes of Gibraltar Dam - Spraying Dasein at Ryugyong Amenhotel Amenhotep - Irrigating the Sahara (17:42).

Pharoah Chromium's five-song EP Vodou Rallizes (2013) sophisticated and cohesive electronic instrumentals, from the light percussive storm of Tetrodotoxin to the glitch-hop-jazz fusion of The Serpent and the Rainbow, from the Dada-African Nzambe Dance to the asphyxiating dub of Krik Krak, with a peak of neurosis in the dark industrial polyrhythm of Passage of Darkness.

Pharoah Chromium contributed two side-long pieces to the triple-LP Oxtlr (2014), a collaboration with veteran kraut-rock guitarist Guenter Schickert: Galaktik Debris (17:21) and Muzik D'Ascenceur pour L'Echafaud (17:17).

By comparison with the early Pharoah Chromium recordings, the two lengthy electronic compositions of Chromosphere (Deep Distance, 2015) are rather uninspired. Enter The Coma Cluster (16:20) shows awareness of Terry Riley's minimalism and of German rock of the 1970s (halfway between Ash Ra Tempel and Cluster), but fails to cohere. The turbulent monologue of synth lines of Chromospheric Brightenings Beneath The Transequatorial Halo (15:23) is a more engaging narrative, with moments of both extreme noise and pastoral tranquillity.

His overt agit-prop project Gaza (2015) is an electro-acoustic collage dedicated to the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, which Barakat envisions as a modern version of Nazi Germany's Warsaw ghetto and as a real-life implementation of John Carpenter's film Escape From New York. He mixes voices of Palestinians, unaltered television footage, and Middle-eastern and Indian instruments in Intro-Izzeddin El-Kassam-The Shooting of Salem Khaleel Shamaly-IDF Shop Talk-Mashi Mashi (15:58) and Intro-Breaking the Silence-Escalation-Terminal Beach Boys-Jabalia Camp-Requiem for a Lullaby (16:03), producing a powerful psychological audio documentary.

Tokyo Sex Destruction (2017) is a live "remix" of Gaza.

Spoken-word pieces with musical accompaniment became his specialty. Eros + Massacre (Scum Yr Earth, 2019) contains two lengthy philosophical treatises, X and Y, that use texts by well-known writers, poets, anthropologists, filmmakers, journalists, academics and freedom fighters read by six women in Arabic, French, English and German.

Creme de Hassan was a collaboration with Paul LaBrecque of Sunburned Hand of the Man, documented on Technique & Rite (2017) and Tricontinental Circus (2019); and Terminal Desert (2019) was another collaboration with LaBrecque, simple credited to LaBrecque/Barakat.

Barakat also formed Abstract Nympho with vocalist and trumpet player Rahel Preisser. The project debuted with the four-song EP Static (2019).

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