HORSEFLY | BANDCAMP
HORSEFLY 7″ is now available for digital download at Charles Manson Bandcamp–
directly from the mastered wav audio file, by Dan Randall.
It also streams there.
HORSEFLY 7″ is now available for digital download at Charles Manson Bandcamp–
directly from the mastered wav audio file, by Dan Randall.
It also streams there.
The day marking Charles Manson’s 77th year.
This gatefold seven inch is still available for $9.
Collage of Manson’s guitar and property done by myself.
Cover art done by Zeena Schreck.
Liner notes, “Talking To You From Another World”, by Nikolas Schreck.
Back cover art by Kai Nelson.
Mastered by Dan Randall.
Support ATWA, ATWAR, underground art and a DIY ethos by getting yourself a copy
Talking to You From Another World
Manson’s Music in Context
Liner notes essay, insert, for Charles Manson’s Horsefly
By Nikolas Schreck
This raw shout of sonic shamanism was recorded in a prison cell on a smuggled recording device during a few precious minutes of stolen silence. California Correctional Department jargon says this isn’t a record, it’s contraband. Some clever attorney’s probably making a case that merely by purchasing this, you’ve aided and abetted a crime.
But seen through Abraxas’s all-seeing non-dual eye, this record’s very existence is a potent symbol of a creative soul standing up to the inhuman system of stone and steel which holds his body captive but has never crushed his spirit. As befits an artist who proudly claims that he’s stood on the law’s other side since his bastard birth, this is a seventy-seven year old survivor’s defiant call to a society he X’d himself out of decades ago. A testament to music’s power to transcend even concrete and chains.
Artists and criminals both stand outside the fixed order of things, reshuffling social reality’s deck. They’re brothers in bearing the stigma that breaking the rules brings with it. In Manson, artist and criminal unite. The urge to create and the drive to transgress become one.
Jaded collectors of true crime curiosities and other pop culture ghouls will bring false expectations to this release. If you buy the cover-up pushed in court forty years ago and sold ever since, this is only the artifact of a deranged mind. Consensus reality has it that Manson’s only claim to fame is his supposed masterminding of a shocking crime spree committed for reasons that’ve come to be accepted as society’s gold standard for Satanic insanity. This is neither the time nor the place to correct Vincent Bugliosi’s career-making masterpiece of legal duplicity. Only a new trial could do that. Let us consider, instead, for once, the artist obscured beneath the vast tissue of fabrications concocted to convict him. To hear Manson’s music – really hear it – you must pull the plugs from your ears and dispel the projections superimposed on his art.
Manson was never the Beatle wanna-be the Helter Melcher Skelter caricature paints him as. Not a note of his music echoes the British minstrel show derived from Afro-American rhythm and blues that became the Sixties’ defining sound. His work twangs with his Scotch-Irish Southern hillbilly roots. This is the Great Depression country boy who praised the Lord in Protestant church choirs, his percussive way with a git-box informed by the Catholic monk who taught him chords in Gibault Boys School. Alvin ”Creepy” Carpis of the Barker Gang showed him some slide guitar rubs in Terminal Island. A Mexican amigo added a Latin twist during a brief time on the lam in Acapulco. The bare bones strum of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, the country and western heroes of Manson’s youth, left their mark too. His music was shaped by chain gang chorales and the anguished cries of convicts shouting on the tiers of all of the prisons in which he’s marked time. In short, it’s hard to imagine a more All-American musical fusion than Manson’s mix of white prison blues and hillbilly gospel. His holy roller snake-handler sound is built on the twin pillars of crime and religion, the two pillars upholding the American dream.
Along with the Beatles canard hung wrongly on Manson’s head, we find the well-entrenched lie that he was a jealous non-talent who struck out at random at the entertainment industry which supposedly spurned him. This willful denial of the facts, one of the rock and film industry Mafia’s most successful facades, is actually the complete opposite of the truth. Manson’s talent was hailed by many successful musicians, among them Neil Young, Dennis Wilson, and Terry Melcher – who never confessed to how deeply involved he was in pushing Manson’s career. Few who remember will admit it now. But Manson was no feared pariah until the media cast him as one. He was a welcome guest and admired musical and spiritual inspiration in the homes (and beds) of many of Hollywood’s groovy and moneyed elite. By 1969, the blessing/curse of Manson’s charisma had him well on his way to being marketed by the Hollywood rock aristocracy as the ”Next Big Thing” of the 70s. He fit right in with the fashion for country-tinged Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters with a message. His truly radical lifestyle, his prison past, and his unique mystical views stamped him with a visionary outlaw chic authenticity made to order for those insurrectionary times. A major Capitol Records album backed up by the Beach Boys was in the works. As was a companion documentary about life among Manson’s revolutionary circle meant to establish him as the countercultural avant-garde’s prophetic voice.
In the early summer of ‘69, Manson was no rejected would-be. In only two years, the ex-con had climbed out of society’s trashcan and managed to come within reach of a mainstream success he regarded with more than a little ambiguity. Manson wasn’t so sure he wanted to sell his soul. In spirited campfire singalongs in the hills of Santa Susana and Death Valley, his music was empowered by religious dimensions. Could that holy force be sustained in the rock and roll circus’s marketplace? Despite the star of the show’s reluctance, the music machine’s Manson campaign would’ve been going full blast within weeks. If it weren’t for the backlash set off by a series of hopelessly bungled drug burglaries, banal crimes conceived and committed by Manson’s associate Charles ”Tex” Watson on some well-connected industry drug dealer peers of his acquaintance. Manson’s industry backers got cold feet because of his marginal connection to Watson’s crimes, not because of any doubt about his talent and commercial potential.
In fact, Manson’d already tired of corporate rock’s formulaic rigmarole. He rejected pop stardom’s strictures as yet another prison. Dennis Wilson had stolen his music, changed his lyrics, and released it without proper credit or payment on the Beach Boys 20/20 album. When Manson tried to get paid what was due him, the Beach Boys’ manager threatened to have Manson rubbed out by a hit man. So much for the much misunderstood past.
Manson didn’t commit this latest musical violation – and suffer the penalty of removal of ”privileges” – to provide entertainment to those drawn to his monstrous media myth. Since the mid-Nineties, his keepers in the Mojave Desert hell-realm he calls home have denied him a voice. To prevent him from being seen as a ”hero”, Manson’s right to grant face-to-face interviews has long since been rescinded. This recording, smuggled out of the heart of the beast, allows Manson to speak. This isn’t show biz or polished performance. Under the hopeless conditions it was recorded, how could it be? Manson’s the first to admit that what he’s recorded in prison doesn’t match what he’d be capable of under proper circumstances. Consider this instead a coyote cry from the heart. No sweetening, no overdubs, no second take. A desperado at his most desperate. A special delivery lyrical letter from the depths of an Orpheus deep in the underworld, in every sense of the word.
Manson says this moment of Now is ”just for us”, his Inner Sanctum, the ”my-mes” and ”alikens” tuned into ”the thought.” But when Manson speaks of thought, it’s not the rehash of discursive chatter that usually fills the mind. Like all mystics, Manson breaks those familiar patterns, allowing non-thought’s silence to break through quotidian mentation’s clutter. Manson’s art is without artifice. Never contrived or forced but immediate and flowing. The unmediated reflection recorded here captures a fleeting moment in the middle of the night after the din of another day in his cage. The Bard of Corcoran’s poetry is a twilight language of underworld argot. Here is the uncut pulse of the alternate universe of American crime which slumming Beats like Burroughs sought to capture but never quite caught. Hermetic, cryptic, veiled with allusions meant for the few and never the many, Manson’s message resists the reductionism of linear minds. His refusal to explain is bound to engender confusion.
Manson’s knee-jerk detractors and admirers alike may miss one salient point. Given a rare chance to communicate, the state’s scapegoat issues none of the bloodthirsty orders to kill we’ve been led to expect from Public Enemy Number One. Instead, ”the most dangerous man in the world” makes the same appeal for Agape that’s always infused his deeply Christian Gnostic thought: Love your brother and you will survive. Hate your brother and you will eat your self.
Coming from a man who’s spent most of his life locked inside the heartless machine of America’s high-security hate factories, that hard-won lesson is a plea worth taking seriously.
Nikolas Schreck, September 2011
“IT’S A THOUGHT……
AND I AM IN THE THOUGHT OF-
PEACE ON EARTH”
“I CAN’T DISLIKE YOU
BUT I WILL SAY THIS TO YOU:
YOU HAVEN’T GOT LONG BEFORE
YOU ARE ALL GOING TO
BECAUSE YOU ARE ALL CRAZY.”
“HOW MUCH WILL YOU GIVE
FOR THE LIVES OF YOUR
WHICH IS YOURSELF?
HOW MUCH ARE PEOPLE WILLING
TO GIVE UP FOR AIR, EARTH,
WATER, ANIMALS, AND THE
– SUPPORT THE REVOLUTION –
-REAP THE HEADS WITH THE THOUGHT-
-ALL HEADS BOWED-
AIR | TREES | WATER | ANIMALS
Charles Manson – Horsefly
Written by: Sage
Artist: Charles Manson
Label: A.T.W.A.R. / The Zou / Parasitic Records
Side A: Revolution
Side B: Air Trees Water Animals
I’ve been sitting and pondering this release for several months now, letting it sit undisturbed in the room adjacent to this one in which I spend most of my time, facing outwards, the portrait of Manson’s one visible eye staring out at me from it’s spot in front of the other vinyl promos awaiting their turn for a write-up, beckoning, taunting as the familiar other half, a portion of the face on the Shroud of Turin, peers with one ghastly dead eye from the other side. Many times, after a momentary connection with the front cover, I have passed it over because, frankly, I just wasn’t ready to write on it yet. This is the type of thing that isn’t a simple artistic expression that someone has put out on record — there is so much more depth, meaning and importance to something like this than some journalists would have the chance to experience in their career, though not all of which are of Manson’s choosing. Symbology, music, artwork and text aside — all the things that normally make up a concrete release for a project — this is at it’s most basic, core level one man’s ability to reach out and show society that the walls that contain his physical body cannot contain his spirit, his writing, or even his music. That man’s modern inhuman, flawed systems can only hold that vessel that carries him, but not that which IS him. That man can implement their forced view of morality and put in chains the body which disrupts their fickle societal reality, but what really makes someone “real” transcends those barriers so long as there are few outside those walls who still believe in what freedom actually means.
I could go into great length and detail about my feelings on the subject of Manson’s incarceration, the hypocrisy involved, the lies and the ignorance/apathy that plagues modern society into simply swallowing what they’re fed instead of looking at facts and taking the time to research much of anything. I could go into great detail on what kind of man Manson really is to myself and others. However, this record comes with a lengthy article as written by Nikolas Schreck whom — and I feel this should go without saying — has had his own battles with media portrayal and backlash from society, both from his spiritual beliefs which have steadily evolved over the years and his musical endeavors (see: Radio Werewolf). In the end, Schreck puts Manson and his life-long ordeal into perspective in a more profound and educated way than I could ever hope to, which shouldn’t come as any surprise given his known sympathies towards Manson as seen in his book “The Manson File”. Regardless, the problems that he speaks of transcend the individual and reach far past Manson himself to other controversial subjects and individuals like Boyd Rice or Adam Parfrey and the rest of “Apocalypse Culture”, though the stigma against both is far less intense. However, this is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.
Moving on, the one thing that Schreck did not hammer home about Manson with his article on the subject that I personally believe is one of the most important characteristics about him is that he is the ultimate symbol of a spiritual man’s unending quest to transcend that which makes him human and live closer to the deity that he is drawn to. In Manson’s case, his belief in and his love for the Gnostic deity Abraxas has led him to constantly have to fight the duality of his own existence in prison — the hatred and the love, the criminal underworld in which he lives and the society which contains and restrains him — to consider and represent in himself the complete reality of right AND wrong / light AND dark that Abraxas himself wholly represents. Equally, Manson represents the human weakness to need a leader or need followers, so much so that murders that were carried out, in some minds, in his name — not on his command — have landed him the legend that he has become, when in reality he merely wishes for individuals to be responsible for their own actions and beliefs — to leave him as a neither a leader nor a follower, but simply a man with a voice. As can be seen on both a literal political and a metaphorical personal level for Manson, Lynette Fromme perhaps put it best when she was quoted in the documentary “Charles Manson Superstar” as writing: “As for Manson’s revolutionary right-wing cause, I believe that if Manson had wings, he’d have at least two of them and a substantial soul-self in the center.”
Horsefly Back Image
Now that we’re through that, it’s time to focus on the most important part of Manson’s being and ultimately the most important idea that he has to offer humanity from the cage that it has left him in, and perhaps the second biggest influence on this record — the ecological idea of ATWA. It might seem strange to some whom are reading this review and are already disillusioned by my personal sympathies for and ramblings on Manson, but the man himself is an environmentalist, someone who identifies with the ways of wildlife more than he does with the ways of his own species — and for good reason. ATWA simply stands for Air, Trees, Water, and Animals, and has had an “R” for Revolution added to it to create “ATWAR”, a movement and entity completely separate from “ATWA” but based off it’s ideas. This ecological idea is simple and uncompromising on several levels, both preaching the return to the natural world because of our parasitic habit of obliviously destroying everything that we depend on and the realization that one man’s gain in modern society is another man’s labor, that instead of loving our brother, we’re enslaving him. These are obvious thought patterns that have a very modern reality that should need little explaining to the environmentally conscious mind — though it seems the majority of us in the Western world continue to live under the illusion that what we’re afforded here doesn’t come with consequences to someone else (or for ourselves further down the line). Symbology aside, the back cover of the 7″ pictures, in a realistic manner, Manson as a champion for that natural cause, surrounded by the forest and wildlife that he so identifies with, from wolf and raven to the subtle presence of scorpions and a trio of horseflies. There is also a supernatural quality to the art as well, with eyes completely white and the forehead swastika that he has become known for becoming ignited, reaching up and faintly touching the center of a Germanic black sun halo which symbolizes his (in his own way) alignment with the beliefs of pre-christian and pre-industrial thought. Even in those few years in the late 60′s when he had his freedom, he was avoiding the post-modern coming-of-age realities of feminist (and other) philosophies and reverting himself and his followers to look towards the natural world. The wolves being white and black symbolize, once again, the duality of Abraxas through color (black/white and dark/light) and symmetry (left/right). The horseflies at his head remind of old superstitions that state that a horsefly signals the coming of a visitor. Given Manson’s (hinted at) belief that he can astrally project his thoughts out into the world from his confines, it would seem that these symbolize the vehicle for those projected thoughts. The fact that these objects have obvious significance to his ties to occult subjects should go without saying.
This review has become somewhat of a biography, but it’s imperative that if you’re reading this that you try to open your mind beyond whatever preconceived notions that you have about the man and understand who Manson is from a perception that lies beyond the usual media hysteria. This record represents a man towards the end of his life who is simply just doing his thing as he has always done. It’s a genuine piece of music from a soul who has carried a banner of authenticity even through his flirtation with Hollywood and the “big time”. This isn’t meant to simply be a historical artifact or an attempt to document someone who may soon no longer be part of our reality. It’s certainly not a fickle attempt to make a dime off a famous figure. The very nature of the movement behind this release, A.T.W.A.R., firmly aligns the people behind this release as being behind Manson himself, and when this is looked at in relation to the other recent releases of similar themes, it should show that this release envelopes and captures who Manson is on a level seen in only glimpses before.
The music was released on November 11th, 2011, which was Manson’s 77th birthday — a mathematical anomaly that one has to admit is stranger than fiction. The music itself is what one would expect from an older Manson whom hurriedly recorded his soul on two tracks via a smuggled recorder. Grimy Southern old-time prison folk that heralds back to the influences of his youth but in that unique Manson sound that concentrates more on a linear path of thought that is streaming out of him rather than a concrete, constructed song — a style that symbolizes the chaos that Manson has faced in his life, both internally and externally, since his birth. The lyrics and vocal style, especially on side A are somehow incredibly similar to the likes of both Captain Beefheart and David Tibet (Current 93) in their psych overtones and, specifically Tibet’s spiritual ramblings, yet are also completely different, simply meeting somewhere in a combination of those two gentlemen with a little bit of bluesy soul. The guitar can act as both an accent to his current mood in the track or as a simple backdrop to his spoken word, but it is always changing and not necessarily evolving — it’s always becoming something new, not simply progressing from the previous line. The other side of the insert that contains Schreck’s article on Manson contains a beautiful portrayal of how I prefer to see him — as one with the wilderness, raven on wrist. This side of the insert also contains the lyrics for both tracks that, like the songs themselves, contain no structure and are only transcriptions by the label — a truth that is made apparent through segments that are marked “[inaudible]” and can unfortunately only be heard as such on the recording.
With ATWA, it appears that his primary reasoning is that words don’t mean anything. Only action matters in this life, and it has to be action that doesn’t utilize a hypocritical engine (“You can’t protest cutting down trees by writing papers”). In the end though, even if he could read them, Manson couldn’t care less about my thoughts on who he is or his music. He isn’t concerned with having followers, but only his own survival — he doesn’t want the attention, but rather to return to where he was before his latest incarceration — to the desert. So in the end, that soul that reached out and will be touching 1,000 individuals through this release, in reality, it’s just one man doing his thing and nothing more. Music is his religion, and he’s going to express that religion by any means necessary. But to the listener, he offers only words. Whether we choose to do anything with them is on us, but if you do, be prepared to take responsibility for your actions, and to do it alone. This realization doesn’t change the fact, though, that in his own way, intentionally or not, Manson is slowly influencing a growing number of people on an ecological front, and perhaps one day, will fully overturn the perspective that he has achieved falsely in life through disinformation that he is a murderous mastermind and turn that legend towards the status of folk hero. It would seem that this is quickly becoming the state of things as recent years have seen an influx of activity from Manson’s musical offerings via this release and a few offerings from Magic Bullet Records. The basic point in the end though is that if you want to get into Manson’s head — REALLY get into his head — this is the release to do so with.
MANSON, CHARLES Horsefly (The Zou / Parasitic) 7″ 14.98
A brand new 7″ single from the infamous Charles Manson, to commemorate his 77th birthday on 11/11/11, recorded surreptitiously in his prison cell, on a smuggled in hand held recorder… a fascinating document, musical and otherwise of a man many consider a madman, but who some others consider wrongly imprisoned. Musically, Manson has a long history, most famously as a friend of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, and of course many have postulated that it was his frustration with his musical career that may have initiated the events that led to his incarceration. This single is two sides of urgent, rambling, ramshackle folk, not that far removed from his other recordings, but it’s definitely a glimpse into the soul of a man who has spent most of his life in prison. There aren’t so many proper ‘songs’ here, it’s more a flowing, sort of freeform folk ramble, with Manson, rambling sung spoken lyrics one second, crooning the next, slipping into crazed rants or maniacal laughter, using different voices, speaking in tongues, but for all the bits of weirdness, there’s some seriously good stuff here, the opening of the B side features some super pretty guitar, and Manson’s voice when it comes in, while rough and ragged, is still emotional and powerful. The majority of the record is stripped down, urgently strummed acoustic guitar, and Manson just wandering vocally, it’s pretty compelling for sure, and anyone who has the other Manson records is gonna want this too. It comes gorgeously packaged in a super deluxe full color gatefold sleeve, inside a printed two side page of liner notes, one side, a defense of Manson, the other a wild ramble signed Horse Fly, who we presume is Manson himself.
LIMITED TO 1000 COPIES!!