Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Cult leader Charles Manson, you’ll be pleased to know, is still serving his life sentence for the Tate/LaBianca murders of 1969. But that won’t stop him from releasing a tetralogy of environmentally minded albums on Fredericksburg’s Magic Bullet Records over the next year. The first, Air, just came out.
The bluesy, eerie eight-track album is an off-the-cuff acoustic recording that Manson made in his cell at the Corcoran State Prison in California. On it, he streams off lyrics about booze, hopping trains, and adventuring afar—-or at least somewhere beyond the prison’s walls.
He “just goes with whatever comes into him at that moment, and that’s what gets documented,” says Brent Eyestone, owner of Magic Bullet Records. “So it’s almost like a trancelike approach, a Mississippi Delta Blues approach to playing music.”
Manson recorded two hours worth of material—-a combination of commentary and singing—-in seemingly half-lucid recordings. The words, understandably, can be hard to decipher. Eyestone describes the sound as “Leon Redbone waking up from a nap.”
The recordings are split into four parts—-Air, Trees, Water, and Animals—-inspired by Manson’s environmental philosophy, ATWA (the Beatles weren’t the only thing he adored). Following Air, the seasonal records will be released this fall, this winter, and next spring.
Eyestone thought cramming all of Manson’s material into one album would be “fatiguing,” he says. “Once he gets going, it just goes.”
Air was released last week on iTunes and today on CD. Eyestone says there seems to have been some interest: “People are kind of fascinated by it at the very least.”
From Graham Scala‘s review in RVA Magazine:
The album is characterized by this dichotomy between the natural elements on which we all rely and the individuals who choose life on society’s fringes. It is hard to discern whether Manson is suggesting that the lives of gamblers, drunks, and hobos should provide a model of nonconformity which would ultimately lead Western civilization away from its own destruction. The intimation is there, however murky the terminology.
“Why come to me…with all this dying and all this fear and all this bullshit? I’m not into dying and fear. I’m into music. I play music,” Manson said during his 1988 interview from prison with Nikolas Schreck, director of the documentary Charles Manson Superstar. Manson will be eligible for parole in 2012.
Magic Bullet Records’ promotional video featuring Manson’s “Air is the King” track:
Photo album cover art courtesy of Talia Miller.