Operation Concrete

Life has been on an interesting curve over the last 8 months. Many things have happened and, unlike so many years previously, not at all with the outcomes I wanted. Sometimes chaos is healthy though, and the last 8 months have been a hard and interesting ride in personal mental and emotional development and although I have some health issues to deal with I was able to fix them, and now I'm all settled again, it's back to business.

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Now, sometimes you need a little jolt, a little inspiration, perhaps even a little jealousy to get things moving again, and Laura from She Makes War has certainly given me that. I've followed Laura on Twitter and her blog for years now, she's an inspirational figure, a freelance, DIY musician, artist, videographer, photographer, you name it, there's a feather in that cap of hers. Now her music project, She Makes War has come full circle with the release of her debut album, Disarm.

First, to the music. The album is a great listen, the opening track 'Scared to capsize' is an emotional start; soft, lightly sung, lovely, and endearing which is a directional pointer for much of the rest of the album. Though, that's not to say that the music is without some grit and a bit of grunt, it weaves in and out of pop grunge, melancholic rock that, with tracks like NIMN connote elements of Massive attack to Depeche Mode that are dark, involved, introspective and throughout provoking.

It certainly made me sit up and listen, properly listen...not a lot of music makes me do that these days. Politically aware, emotionally pertinent and touching, crunchy punk, grunge pop. If you're looking for 'sound-alikes' try Nirvana crossed with Veruca Salt and PJ Harvey, with a little sprinkling of fairy dust. It's ace.

Now on to what the whole thing means. Laura has independently produced the everything, she has self funded the album, the recording, the engineering, the music videos, the photography, art, design, everything and it's brilliant. It really brings back memories of what I did and with and what I am doing with Concrete Operational, and the success she is having is nothing short of inspirational, and a text book example of how to go about being a successful independent artist.

She has written a great blog post on her thoughts so far, and the similarities between ourselves are so apparent it's a little unnerving. We both wanted to show how independent production does not need to be anything less than excellent, even surpassing big spend, industry production, and she admits, like myself also, that she's a little bit of a control freak, she knew what she wanted, she knew it was good and she went about producing it. She has done everything right, and it's paying dividends, I can just imagine the time and effort she has put in, DIY is hard work, but the feeling you get out of doing it is amazing. With Concrete Operational, pulling together 90,00 words of novel, five bands, five artists, one film maker, countless other people from recording studios to scanning agencies and a designer that was on the verge of mental break down after immersing himself in the concept of Sacred Geometry almost took me to breaking point, but the feeling at the launch night was unsurpassed. I know the guys over at independent record labels Alcopop and BSM are fully independent and DIY and the gear they come out with is amazing, but I also know the time and effort and energy they put in making, constructing and producing everything they do.

The long and short of it, is that as Laura says, the means to produce something of outstanding quality without the need for huge industrial backers is open to everyone today. You need friends, contacts, a bit of money, a lot of perseverance and a good idea, but if you are thinking of pulling an independent project of art together today, the time could not be better. There are hordes of people out there eager for lovely, new, interesting and powerful products that may have never seen the light of day otherwise. Sometimes, it's a case of signing up for a semester or two to the Henry Rollins School of 'Getting things the fuck done'.

Anyway, I can't recommend the album more, and I urge you to purchase it rather than download it for free, and definitely look into the levelled packages of items she has.

The blog is now off hiatus mode. I am writing again, and I have another idea for another big independent collaborative media project moving into the new year, first I'm finishing off my second manuscript, and I'll keep updating on how everything is going, and other ace stuff in general.