The LaBiancas - Charles Manson is Jesus Christ
Druglord records, 2013

Few figures have taken the U.S. and possibly the world as controversially as Charles Manson. Is Manson an unrecognized genius and philosopher? Is he the embodiment of all wrong in society? Is Manson both of these? Regardless, Manson has left a huge influence on popular culture for the past half-century, being covered and sampled by such bands as Marilyn Manson, Psychic TV, and Crispin Glover. Few artists have hailed him openly, with exception possibly the former Radio Werewolf vocalist Nikolas Schreck, who once proclaimed, whether in out of provocation or genuine thought, that Charles Manson is “One of the greatest philosophers of our time.

The legacy of Charles Manson’s marking of popular culture is far from gone, and The LaBiancas stand as a testament to that. A Charles Manson concept band based in New York City, they are somewhat of an underground super-duo, composed of JJ-Brine, whose solo album, President of Mozambique, was released to critical acclaim earlier this producer Lena Marquis. The band’s debut album, the well-titled Charles Manson Is Jesus Christ, presents an almost delirious soundscape evolving around the Manson family history and philosophy through a ranging electronic sound palette. 

Sonically, the album jumps in pacing and mood from track to track. The band’s cover of “Helter Skelter”, and”10050 Cielo Drive” give one the feeling of being at a 90s techno-house rave. “Famous For” could pass as an out-take from Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain, while the album’s title track echoes the electroclash movement of the early 00s.”Family Jam” feels like Portishead on a bad acid trip, while “I’ll Never Say Never” is a lullaby nightmare. Despite the variation in sound, the tracks on Charles Manson all share some unifying qualities: droning and unisoned vocals, and a clashing of haunting negativity with poppy beats.

It is this hauntingness that makes Charles Manson possibly among the ugliest dance albums to be released in recent years, and in the best way possible. This album turns the euphoric intentions of the rave scene on its head, leaving a mark of discomfort and darkness upon the listener. While in terms of instrumentation, this album is far from groundbreaking, it is thematically unlike any other electronic dance album… ever. Whether or not The LaBiancas achieve any sort of popular success is not up to question, but this album will surely live in the minds of many as being one of the strangest albums of our times.

Can we put a rating on this? We can’t. It’s too bold of a statement to be pinned to a number.