Chain Migration by The Fiction Aisle

Hey you lovely lot.

I’ve ummed and ahhed about how to put this out, and it was increasingly clear that I needed to release it as it is – no re-records. And so, this is an opportunity to hear my songs as they are before things get honed, ideas whittled down, and I basically shave off all the weirdness/awkwardness, or as much as I need to to be comfortable with people hearing it. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of something when it’s in this state, but right now I need to challenge myself and see what comes of it. It’s always a thrill to release new music, but this has the added nerve of being much, much rawer than I’d usually deem releaseable. Some of the songs took months to write, but there’s an immediacy throughout these mixes that I think I lost on the last one. I hope you go with me, wherever I’ve gone. And if not, I’ll still have been on a valuable lil’ trip, damn right.

Thomas xxx

Thomas White Interview Translation: Meeting with Thomas White, head of The Fiction Aisle.

With the fabulous Jupiter, Florida, Tom White probably comes to realize the centerpiece of his already well-developed discography (The Fiction Aisle, but also The Electric Soft Parade and Brakes). The native of Brighton comes back here to talk about his desires, the genesis of his music and his influences.

Jupiter, Florida … why this title? What does this association of names represent for you? Does it refer to a place that really exists (Jupiter is a Florida resort) or a dream place?

The title was just right – it had something magical, familiar and strange at the same time. I wanted to evoke a feeling of escape and belonging at the same time. All these contradictory things that we feel every moment. That’s what I wanted. I am less interested in the direct meaning of things these days.

You seem to have expanded your musical palette on this album, less jazzy, more pop, also injecting a small dose of electronics. Is it a deliberate desire to evolve The Fiction Aisle or did it come naturally?

With this new record, I deliberately incorporated more elements that I see as “pop” and accessible – a wider frequency range, simpler, repetitive arrangements (musically and at the lyric level), though there are still many chords, and the music is still very dense in places. I do not know exactly what I was listening to at the time, nor what influenced that change. About halfway through the recording, I played some rough mixes with my friend Andrew Mitchell, and he answered me by playing Jesus Love Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars (post-minimalist music composer and british bassist), which is a wonderful piece. The slow movement and evolution of this piece had a profound effect on me, and definitely gave me the courage to be really bold in this regard – to allow whole passages to evolve at their own pace and take more time than they should, before everything suddenly resolves – as if you’re holding your breath underwater for as long as you can, then coming in to get some fresh air.

What inspires your lyrics and makes you want to write songs?

Part of what I do is to preserve moments in my life, to revisit them and remember them more easily, and maybe learn from them, even though I’m sure I do not realize that at the moment I decide to write about a particular thing. I try not to over analyze what I do. I really do not believe in writing songs with other people or in committee. Dalí did not paint his paintings with art dealers in the room telling him which colors to use. Song writing is no different. It’s an art, and my approach is to allow the unconscious to guide this process as much as possible. Throughout the process, my conscious brain will try to intercept and shape these unconscious expressions, and it’s the constant battle: try to shut your brain down long enough to let the good things go. I think the best things happen when you are detached from other people and let the universe guide you. It is at this point that you potentially reach a place where others are not and the best art is when we come back from this place and we can translate the experience into something elusive for others. No matter what form it takes – art, songs, film, writing – that’s what I always aim for.

The atmosphere of your music is quite melancholy but it seems more serene, sometimes almost optimistic about this album. Is this an impression or is it really the case?

I think everything I’ve done may sound superficially optimistic, but there’s always a line of melancholy going through it. I think it’s an expression of what it’s like to be human, and that’s something I’m very proud of in my work. Many writers or musicians would not want to project that kind of thing, and I appreciate that it is a complex and moving thing – many people are not interested in songs that could make them sad and happy at the same time and have to deal with what that brings them. For me, it’s just the reality, and I reflect it in music. I do not see it as objectively good or bad, it’s just like that.

Musically, do you have influences or models? Do you always listen to pop or have you moved on? I find some of your songs very cinematographic, is that part of your influences? (I’m thinking of John Barry for example or a few musicals) How did this taste for the jazz or orchestral ambiances that characterize The Fiction Aisle?

There were some turning points in my writing. I’ve been very influenced by writers Simon Gray and Nicholson Baker in recent years, both using an incredible amount of detail, John Updike as well. I love everyone who can go into the details of something and get something broader and deeper. I feel that it has become something that really interests me and that I always come back to it – something very specific and lyrical in detail, often very personal and perhaps obscure to others, coupled with music that gives a greater scope to interpretation. Alasdair Maclean of The Clientele does it very well, and I am a big fan.

Do you consider The Fiction Aisle a real group or rather a solo project that includes the collaboration of musicians as needed? Electric Soft Parade was the project of two brothers, Thomas and Alex. What is Alex’s role in The Fiction Aisle?

I do not really see it as a group, unless we all play together in the same room. At the moment, the band is made up of six people – all the people who have played on the albums – but whether it’s alone in the studio with my voice and building songs from scratch, or a group of twelve musicians with a brass section, it’s still The Fiction Aisle. So far, Alex has played on the first album, helping with drums and various drums, but he recently joined the band on guitar, so he is currently very involved.

Do you intend to play in France then?

I would love to take the group to France. We are about to tour much more than we have ever done, and this new album was our best in terms of welcoming fans and journalists. We will therefore try to make the group play as much as possible in the rest of Europe. It’s a certainty.

The Fiction Aisle – Jupiter, Florida

Jupiter, Florida by The Fiction Aisle was released worldwide on 19th January! BUY HEREBANDCAMPFacebook hereLISTEN ON SPOTIFYLISTEN ON YOUTUBE

The Brighton native delivers swoonsome, electro-orchestral arrangements that hark back to the sounds of Pulp, Morrissey & Manic Street Preachers.

Thomas James White is nothing if not prolific. Jupiter, Florida is the third album in just two years from his latest project The Fiction Aisle and is released through Chord Orchard on January 19th.

Whilst the previous two Fiction Aisle albums were low-key, limited edition affairs – the result of White taking a deliberate step back from the music industry – his ongoing mission into widescreen emotional pop has reached tipping point with Jupiter, Florida. This cult act are now ripe for wider discovery.

Despite their swoonsome, electro-orchestral arrangements, the first two Fiction Aisle albums were created in a swirl of depression and drink, largely exploring the personal rollercoaster White had been on since coming out as a gay man. An artist with rock solid credentials – a founding member of The Electric Soft Parade and Brakes, and a host of solo works and collaborations with the likes of Patrick Wolf and British Sea Power amongst his impressive CV – White is now reconnected and channeling his muse into something profoundly positive.

Drawing from a musical palette of influences including Nina Simone, Harry Nilsson, Broadcast and Lee Hazlewood’s 1970 album Cowboy in Sweden, and produced at Jolyon Holroyd’s Valvetastic Studio near Exeter, from its opening cut, ‘Gone Today’, Jupiter, Florida announces that things are getting better in the world of Thomas James White.

Pulp-ish ballad ‘Some Things Never Die’ is a co-write with White’s life-partner. It’s about, explains White – “that sad/beautiful feeling that when we leave this world, it will carry on as normal and we’re just this thing passing through for a little while, making our tiny little imperceptible mark. Those intense emotional moments where things are so heightened you’re almost seeing and sensing the world in multiple dimensions, or with extra senses. It’s my favourite song on the record, and I think some of my best writing so far.”

‘Black River’ is a photographic wintery snapshot about how accepting change may be the key to happiness; the Morrissey-esque ‘Ten Years Time’ is full of pithy self-assessment, while the twinkling space-disco of ‘Memory’ is aglow with hope.

“I don’t keep a diary,” Thomas explains, “but a record is a loose encapsulation of a period of time. In a lot of ways the new album is a break from the past – it’s me saying, ‘Right, I’m going to do something with all this building up inside me’.”

Titled after a white picket fence American town, Jupiter, Florida is the sound of Thomas James White mining his emotions with newfound relish, letting The Fiction Aisle truly blossom, ready for whatever comes next.

1. Gone Today
2. The End of the Affair
3. Ten Years
4. Black River
5. Sweetness & Light
6. Memory
7. Some Things Never Die
8. Will I Get Where I’m Going Before I’m Ready?

Jupiter, Florida Reviews – click links to read in full Jupiter, Florida is the notably more exuberant third LP from the solo project of English songwriter Thomas White (the Electric Soft Parade, Brakesbrakesbrakes). Where prior albums by the Fiction Aisle were limited, self-released works intended as an outlet for more personal material, it also marks the project’s Chord Orchard label debut. While still immersed in wistful, extended chords and complex harmonic progressions, there’s a spring in the step of Jupiter, Florida, with its full drums, more active basslines, and brisker tempos. It also touches on ’70s art rock, with three of its tracks lasting over seven minutes, and prolonged instrumental rock outros on at least a couple of tracks. Reinforced by synths, opener “Gone Today” offers a borderline dance-rock that was totally absent from 2016’s Fuschia Days. Later, “Ten Years” is thematically repetitive until it turns a corner both lyrically and musically. A song like the nearly eight-minute “Memory” passes through a mix of styles and musical references, though crisp, pretty chord progressions à la Roddy Frame dominate the album’s sound. The only taut, under-four-minute pop song here, though, is “Some Things Never Die,” a reflective, midtempo entry. Listeners who can hang in with the other tracks’ more sinuous song forms will be treated to engaging melodies, bittersweet lyrics, and those luxurious chord structures. The band’s music is superb, and in line with the sort of thing one heard on later Boo Radleys records, for an easy comparison point. I really can’t stress enough what a wonderful listen this one was for me.

Tracks like “Gone Today” see White favor a kind of languid spaciousness in his sound that is inviting rather than indulgent, while the downright lovely “The End of the Affair” suggests those Aztec Camera records where Roddy Frame favored smooth production and sleek surfaces in his sound. “Sweetness and Light” percolates like the best sort of Britpop stuff that White clearly draws a lot of inspiration from even still, while the longer “Memory” is trippy and closer to what Spiritualized was doing at one point in the past. If Thomas White is using parts of the output of The Fiction Aisle to explore some interesting sonic corners, he’s also clearly a strong songwriter and one who is interested in classic forms. Looking to predecessors as diverse as Lennon and Bacharach, White can pen a really strong hook, like on “Some Things Never Die”, even as the final cut on the record, the epic “Will I Get Where I’m Going Before I’m Ready?”, nearly drifts away even as it gently enchants with waves of the melody-line coming in like slow ripples from a distant ship on the horizon.

Jupiter, Florida was such a pleasant surprise to me that I am almost angry that I hadn’t heard of this band so much earlier. The Fiction Aisle make beautiful and affecting music that both fits with the sort of Brit-rock I consumed some decades ago, even as it expands the genre in some interesting and unexpected ways. He’s back with his third album in just two years and it’s a hugely enjoyable listen with yet more melancholic ambience.

Jupiter, Florida is a very difficult album to pigeonhole. Its soaring, sweeping orchestrals that wouldn’t be out of place on a film soundtrack are incorporated with a collection of fantastic 90s work. For example, opening song ‘Gone Today’ has the melodic charm of an early Morrissey album, but the otherworldliness of Spiritualized. It becomes quite clear early on that White has an immense amount of talent for ambient melody. In fact, it instantly feels like an album that overcomes your entire body with inflected assonance.

For an album released in the middle of winter, it’s a summery, warming listen at times. ‘Ten Years’, for example, recalls the soothing, reassuring tones of Father John Misty with the brass section of Pink Floyd’s Animals. Likewise, ‘The End of The Affair’ is where the jazz inflections come to fruition. The Fiction Aisle has always been a project that is exceptional in its audacity and its production.

The best song on the record is without a doubt ‘Black River’. The sheer scope of the song is massive, but it’s the execution that is most impressive. With its sentimental pop escalation, dynamic guitar lines and sweeping synthesisers it’s a colossal song that continues to propel forward until its surging finale. If Tame Impala released this you wouldn’t be surprised, it’s certainly a song that is deserving of a massive festival crowd.

Additionally, Thomas White’s voice is an absolute delight, worthy of a listen at any point in your day. Like the huskiness of Cage the Elephant frontman Matt Shultz, mixed with Kevin Parker’s sentimentality, it’s arguably the strongest part of the project and the album. This is especially clear on ‘Sweetness & Light’ which is admirable in its idealistic and aestival aura. Furthermore, ‘Memory’ sees White exploring the dance-pop genre with an introduction that sounds like The xx exploding into a bombastic 80s pop song akin to Tears for Fears or Visage.

Ultimately, this is an album that is a spectacular achievement, showcasing White’s awesome production expertise, impassioned magnitude and rhythmic ambidexterity. Jupiter, Florida is a glimmering pop album that feels like high-art. It’s a pensive and studious record that is comparable to some of the greatest artists in music but, crucially, it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. Dream of a summer night…

Those who like me frequented the songs of The Electric Soft Parade in the first decade of the 2000s, agree that Thomas White has this little extra thing that allows him to stand out from all indie pop. In ESP’s time, it was his ability to… build catchy lines punctuated with electric breaks that made their music so special.

Particular and endearing, the music of Thomas White is just as much since he officiates with The Fiction Aisle, but even more singular and personal too. After two beautiful albums of orchestral pop mastered cinematic jazz (you must absolutely listen to Heart Map Rubric and its lot of classics, one of the most beautiful things heard in 2016), here is the time to visit Jupiter, Florida, third The Fiction Aisle album. Always imbued with the same melancholy color (blue… like the color of a summer night in the moonlight), The Fiction Aisle extends its musical palette and varies a little more ambiances.

The album opens with Gone Today, which from the beginning sets the bar very high, marvel of melody to the exacerbated romanticism, to the meticulously proportioned instrumentation (of the heart and the choirs, the electric guitars just what it takes, a touch of synthetic rhythm), heart-catching piece that immediately snatches the listener to not let go. Then comes The End of the Affair, a title necessarily melancholy and sensitive, desperate songs are decidedly the most beautiful. Ten Years marks a return to a more classic and simpler pop format, again melodically perfect, in the end nicely brassy. Black River, a seven-minute piece of bravery that, while it may be a bit confusing at first glance by its repetitive and disturbing side, ends up fascinating and overwhelming.

Come the aptly named Sweetness & Light, melodic balm mid tempo which, by its softness and its prettiness, will heal all wounds. Memory, song in the long course, gives pride to the synths with its hedonistic chorus and electro aerial which invite us a few steps of dance. Some Things Never Die, a magnificent piece that Thomas White considers to be one of his finest ever written – and I quite agree with him – would not be mismatched on a soundtrack composed by John Barry. We will end up pleasantly drifting along the nine minutes of Will I Get Where I’m Going Before I’m Ready, rocked by swirls of dreamy guitars.

Besides the impressive sound setting and remarkable melodic sense, we must emphasize the quality of Thomas’s song, always fair, perfectly adapted to formats and moods, sometimes pop storyteller, sometimes beautiful crooner. Here is a wonderful record that will allow the lucky listener to contemplate, in the middle of winter, the sky, a summer night, if possible on a Florida beach… I was rather cautious with the solo production of Thomas James White, formerly The Electric Soft Parade and Brakes. This is because the second album “Fuchsia Days”, which showed itself in all its synthesized orchestrality, between sugary and too heavy passages, had not convinced me. Of course, for White it was a moment of transition and detachment from a more rock production and a mainstream world, but I admit that this lo-fi trip had a bit worn out in the long run: refined, but also excessively redundant. That’s why when I got closer to “Jupiter, Florida” there were more fears than hopes. Fortunately, the perky and captivating departure of “Gone Today” brought back my smile and erased my fears.

There is no lack of spatiality, arrangements and airiness of compositions that look with pleasure at the ’70s, but the whole does not sound self-indulgent, but appetizing and in the disk certainly increases the “pop rate”, more varied than the previous album, with a nice degree of closeness to certain structures that we can also find in the most inspired Martin Carr writing. The delicate “The End Of The Affair”, with the instrumentation that grows around us, not to mention the total climax of “Black River”, show us an artist who feels inspired and wants to field ideas and various solutions. There is a reference to the work of synth of the previous album (“Memory”), but where previously we used lower and dense tones here that, at a certain point, the rhythm rises and we feel catapulted into a sort of ‘space-disco’ from ‘Tempo delle Mele’.

There are also moments when “classical pop studies” emerge in an emotional way. From the “morrisseyana” “Ten Years” (in which you can see delicious wind instruments), to the classical and exquisitely guitar-pop ballad of “Sweetnes & Light” that brings us almost to the Rialto, in this game of pop refinements that is accentuated by “Some Things Never Die “, still close to the poetry of the band Louis Eliot, as well as to the Pulp. The epic closing of “Will I Get Where I’m Going Before I’m Ready?” (10 minutes!) Is the superb Viaticum towards that sense of gratification and positivity that has accompanied us throughout the record and that here finds magnificent suggestions.

A great record, which marks a reconciliation with pop for Thomas James White who does not work so much on originality, but on a successful blend of influences that enhance his melodic taste. Thomas White, the guiding force behind the band has a credible indie CV in Brakes and Electric Soft Parade. Here he expresses a rather different and more thoughtful vision.

The Fiction Aisle are an elegaic concern. Musing on the passage of time and how life happens to us just as much as us being conductors of it. With a sound supplemented by woodwind and burbling almost eighties synth to augment the standard indie trimmings, the record pleasingly recalls the likes of The Clientele and Blue Nile, characters who were content to haunt the margins of the Pop World.

It’s one of the more exciting albums to appear in 2018, a year that I’ve already complained has taken a while to get going, for me at least, musically. Jupiter Florida does its bit to make amends. A fine record with a quiet and achieved inner ambition. Layers upon layers, jolly blue sky and tender prayers… I am prone to believe that there is still hope for indie music. Not that it’d be in a particularly bad, or even moribund shape, but let’s be honest with ourselves that it isn’t in as strong a presence or as influential a phenomenon as it once was. Today we are reduced to listening to either washed out twee glitter waste, or to a line of somewhat lamentable revivalists. But I do still hold on hope that it is not going to fall into complete shapelessness or banality. At the very least I always could hope for decent enough execution within those styles. So when it comes to the latest Fiction Aisle release, I am somewhat torn, although my mind is now mostly made up.

This album is good. I do understand that it is a strange instance of that aforementioned washed out lounge mood-setter, but with a stronger instrumental presence. But it is also a strongly executed piece with above and beyond pretty melodies and a certain cleverness about how to go about turning them into something remarkable by playing on increasing intensity of the music and adding or changing the instrumental line-up.

… no matter how much I’ve tried, I just can’t figure out the ‘why’ of it. So the only real way out is to try and forget all about it and enjoy the truly intricate sweetness of the song-writing and the staggering musical finesse displayed here, because if anything, that is something I can point out with certainty.

Thomas writes on the Fiction Aisle Facebook I’m finding it quite amusing that some reviewers are “torn” in this way. My theory is that, having had a pretty much complete press black-out on the first two records, most reviewers have had very little to go on, or to reference, other than what the record conjures in their own mind, and the information offered in the press release. I think it highlights how much writers these days rely on what others have already written, especially when faced with an album that has had very little fanfare in the press but that arrives fully formed and musically (at least) highly developed. It catches people offguard, and I think writers are afraid of sticking their necks out and saying something is brilliant (not that my record necessarily IS) without the consensus of others. Having said all that, I don’t think it’s reasonable to revel in great reviews unless you’re willing to accept the bad ones too. He also gives it 4 stars and comments on the quality of the recording and arrangements, so I’m happy with that. My only beef is my earlier point – it’s frustrating to read a review that essentially speaks highly of the record but reserves total commitment/praise for reasons *other* than the record itself. In some ways I think the tone of this review is bang on. I made this and the last TFA record from a pretty heavy place of depression and bad drinking, so it has various aspects perhaps pulling in different directions. On the one hand I want to express that feeling and explore it and possibly shine a light on that reality and how it feels; at the same time I’m using my music to lift myself out of that hole, and hopefully do the same for others. I hope I’m in some way clear in what I’m trying to say. Thomas xx The Fiction Aisle is the musical project of Tom White who founded the no less britpop Electric Soft Parade. If you are not a fan of English pop, you can go your way and resume your yoga session where you left it because for once the music of The Fiction Aisle releases scents of English cuisine … musical I mean because for the rest …

Strongly inspired by the Beatles, Tom White is one of the most talented composers but also relatively unknown. Jupiter Florida their latest album is more than solid, very consistent but it will not be recognized by the general public for sure.

Too ambitious, too classy and especially not trendy enough…

Too bad, because The Fiction Aisle proposes yet a melodically searched and well produced music. I take and will probably listen alone. This time round the mood is more tentatively upbeat than previously, and White’s Pink Floyd-ish tendencies are on the back burner, but, at its core, cosmic easy listening is still the game.

The Fiction Aisle aspire to John Barry’s cinematic orchestrated scope, but tinted with hints of Morrissey’s vocal tics, and a broader electronic palette scoping about underneath. “Memory” even has a touch of late Nineties/early Millennial chill-out about it. However, it’s White’s characterful lyrical pith that sets The Fiction Aisle apart, giving his catchy songwriting extra reach and heft.

Previous outings have broached depression in an occasionally desperate or hedonistic manner but “Ten Years” hints at a newfound peace, or at least looking the issue in the eye (“It’s up to me to find any positivity – do I have the strength?”), while indie-ish opener “Gone Today”, despite its summery vibes, may be about existing in the moment rather than letting the past and future nag at the mind.

Another stand-out track is “Sweetness & Light”, a very straightforward, unembarrassed modern love song that’s also contagious. As the album goes on, White relaxes into it, spreading out, letting the sonic stylings grow ever more blissed, notably on the multi-tracked vocals of “Black River”, which bring to mind sunshine in 1970s LA, and the lusciousness of “Some Things Never Die”, until he eventually ends up drifting off on the final ten-minute “Will I Get Where I’m Going Before I’m Ready?”, with its extended instrumental passages heading into balminess.

Jupiter, Florida is as sunny as its title suggests, but cut through with a realist’s lyrical perspective, albeit a realist with a tendency to dream. Once again, The Fiction Aisle prove to be mining original, thoughtful and often lovely territory with a class that’s a cut above the usual.

The Fiction Aisle – Fuchsia Days

From the Mailout: We are extremely pleased to announce the arrival of our second long-player, Fuchsia Days, out today (17/06/16) via Chord Orchard/AWAL.

Described by as “…remarkably immersive…striking a keen, almost meditatively restrained balance between ambient, dream-pop and drone…”, the album is available to buy now across all digital platforms. Physical copies (limited-edition hand-numbered deluxe CD/digipak) are available exclusively from the Chord Orchard webshop.

Physical copies: chordorchard.bandcamp.comiTunes

Full album streaming now exclusively at

Listen to Fuchsia Days on SpotifyFuchsia Days on YoutubeThe Fiction Aisle Facebook

Threnody (For E. A.)

Fuchsia Days Reviews and Interviews – click links to read in full Every now and again, although less and less frequently, a piece of music arrives which feels like a cosmic gift, soothing and allowing my mind to wander in a new space, free from the burdens of the world without denying them. It allows me to contemplate the world and my time here whilst affording the luxury of creating a vast 3-dimensional illusory world where I am free to roam, to imagine.

It is a ghost land where I fall in love all over again. It reminds me of the love I have in my life and teaches me to remember this, not to take any of it for granted. This is music which brings tears – healing tears which have remained unshed for too long; a very physical reaction of the skin as the music drifts through me, goosebumps, hairs on the back of the neck, the body is undergoing a deep tissue spirit massage.

It doesn’t demand you listen to it either, rather it draws you in. I believe in music as a force of magic, that we can change people’s minds in some ways. There’s an element of the hypnotist in the exceptional composers and music makers; Thomas White can count himself as one of them.

If this sounds all a bit hippy dippy, I have to say that is not where I’m coming from. I’m coming from the same places of pain, stress, worry and occasional despair which most of us experience. This music is a gift in that it appears to understand this and it offers to hold our hand through its journey.

I really feel that I will enjoy this album for some years to come. Still crooning the same unrequited dramas in the Bacharach/Sinatra/Hawley tones, Thomas White as The Fiction Aisle has however moved on from the plaintive sumptuous orchestral suites of his last epic Heart Map Rubric for something more explorative. Inspired in part by the ambient panoramic sweeps and mood pieces of Eno, White’s smooth longing timbre lingers palatial style over a series of expansive soundtracks on his latest epic, Fuchsia Days.

A musical polymath on the Brighton scene, used to adapting new sounds, White has successfully shifted between the enervated halcyon psych of the Electric Soft Parade and the rambunctious indie/alternative country rock of the Brakes, to hone a solo career as a wry and weary romantic crooner.

Wistfully, lilting, occupying the same sentiments and musical ground as Robert Wyatt’s Cuckooland and Paddy McAloon’s I Trawl The Megahertz, Fuchsia Days, despite its often-lamentable themes, allows White’s vocals to wander meditatively. On the stirring suffused, Spiritualised heaven bound, ‘Tonight’ and the cinematic minor opus title track his voice disappears completely; emotion and heartbreak described instead by the subtle instrumental layers of gradual release.

Though imbued with his new ambient settings, White still repeats the melodic traces of McCartney, and occasionally Harrison; especially with the underplayed romance, but less cynical heartbreaker ‘The Dream’: a real tear-jerker that you could imagine being penned by a Sunflower/Friends era Bruce Johnston. And on the universal encapsulated opener ‘Dust’, there are reverberations of both ELO and Queen’s vocal effects.

There’s nothing to pine over, no regrets, White’s latest vessel still channels the same balladry emotions and concerns. The songwriting has just been given more space to breathe; flowing, fluctuating and lulling over sweeping romantic and sometime elegiac organ evoked maladies to capture age-old woes and boons. Another successful transition from White. “Fuchsia Days” is an atypical album, almost shy in its limited physical availability (fifty copies), a decisive step towards an even more evanescent musicality, where psychedelic and Canterbury style musical plots take over, setting aside the flattery of pop.

The tour with Crayola Lectern and the recent passion for music by Peter Blegvad and John Greaves have left their mark on these quiet and almost algid sound excursions. The twelve almost mystic minutes of “Tonight”, a tribute to the Pink Floyd of “Obscured By Clouds”, are full of precious vocal chiselling and rivers of keyboards, a song characterized by an almost imperceptible lyric crescendo, which avoids tinsel and pleonastic tones, despite the epic almost symphonic evolution of the finale.

Also the introductory “Dust”, with the a cappella choirs and melancholic synth textures, brings into play the 70s, citing the choral perfection of Beach Boys and Queen. Still the voices are the protagonists of “Threnody (For EA)”, the most ambitious and cryptic song of “Fuchsia Days”: an almost hypnotic and visionary ballad that shifts the clock forward towards the Radiohead of “Ok Computer”, giving the most memorable melody of the whole project.

“Fuchsia Days” is an album with a fascination of elegance, almost a provocation for the modern user, subjected to the hammering use of skip during the listening phase. Songs like “The Dream” and “Salt In The Wound” appear lazy and indolent before showing all their charm. Easier to remain enchanted by the glacial and deeply lyrical tone of “Country Mile” or the “Blade Runner” landscapes of the title track that complete a sound path that promises interesting future developments for the band of Brighton. Fuchsia Days, as its title, punning on a classic Can album, hints, moves things on. The main comparison that springs to mind, however, is not Krautrock but Pink Floyd in their ruminative mid-Seventies pomp. Opening cut “Dust”, a multi-tracked, synth-tickled acapella, recalls their Wish You Were Here period, with a smidgeon of “Bohemian Rhapsody”-era Queen thrown in. Gone is the indie idiom: The Fiction Aisle have cut loose and floated off, as the deliciously gigantic, melancholic “The Dream” makes clear.

The cuddly, almost ecclesiastical “Tonight” is akin to a 12-minute tribute to late Floyd keys-man Rick Wright. However, Fuchsia Days does not wibble into tune-free noodle. White’s way with an easy listening melody is intact and his love-lorn lyrics ground things. “Country Mile” is an ode to a Scandinavian good time but could be read as a brass-led elegy for post-EU Britain with lyrics such as “We’re all inside our own heads now/We are leaving new friends, leaving this town,” and “Won’t be seeing you for a long while… I feel lost.” Whatever it’s about, it’s beautiful, as is “Threnody (for EA)”, which comes on like a sumptuous fusion of Radiohead and The Polyphonic Spree.

Everything ends with the 14-minute title track, another instrumental suite that strongly recalls Vangelis’s seminal music for the film Bladerunner. Fuchsia Days is a bold move sideways and forward, making this a band to watch like a hawk. At this rate, they’ll have another one out by Christmas. Fingers crossed. “Fuchsia Days” is an atypical album, almost shy in its limited physical availability (fifty copies), a decisive step towards an even more evanescent musicality, where psychedelic and Canterbury style musical plots take over, setting aside the flattery of pop.

The tour with Crayola Lectern and the recent passion for music by Peter Blegvad and John Greaves have left their mark on these quiet and almost algid sound excursions. The twelve almost mystic minutes of “Tonight”, a tribute to the Pink Floyd of “Obscured By Clouds”, are full of precious vocal chiselling and rivers of keyboards, a song characterized by an almost imperceptible lyric crescendo, which avoids tinsel and pleonastic tones, despite the epic almost symphonic evolution of the finale.

Also the introductory “Dust”, with the a cappella choirs and melancholic synth textures, brings into play the 70s, citing the choral perfection of Beach Boys and Queen. Still the voices are the protagonists of “Threnody (For EA)”, the most ambitious and cryptic song of “Fuchsia Days”: an almost hypnotic and visionary ballad that shifts the clock forward towards the Radiohead of “Ok Computer”, giving the most memorable melody of the whole project.

“Fuchsia Days” is an album with a fascination of elegance, almost a provocation for the modern user, subjected to the hammering use of skip during the listening phase. Songs like “The Dream” and “Salt In The Wound” appear lazy and indolent before showing all their charm. Easier to remain enchanted by the glacial and deeply lyrical tone of “Country Mile” or the “Blade Runner” landscapes of the title track that complete a sound path that promises interesting future developments for the band of Brighton. Led by former Electric Soft Parade/Brakes musical polymath Thomas White, The Fiction Aisle are a Brighton-based musical collective whose second album, Fuschia Days, establishes them as a singular alt-pop force in the making. Spanning seven tracks, the album – which we’re pleased to premiere here – is a remarkably immersive release, striking a keen, almost meditatively restrained balanced between ambient, dream-pop and drone in the vein of Robert Wyatt, Broadcast and Flaming Lips‘ more symphonic efforts. With White’s monophonic Oberheim OB-1 synth at the heart of the mesmeric soundtrack-like quality of the album, it’s a wistful, beautifully-rendered journey traversing everything from true love, ecstasy and death to depression, madness and space. All the classics. A wonderful album of drifting orchestral pop from the former Electric Soft Parade man Thomas White of Brighton and friends.

It is a collection of pieces unhindered by percussion or rhythm in the conventional sense. Instead each song drifts as if free of gravity and there is very much a sense of suspension above the earth in the bed of synth rumbles and drones.

Opener ‘Dust’ has immediate shades of baroque in its vocal layers and meaty chords, although that feeling is soon overtaken by spacey bleeps and whines.

The atmosphere of ‘Salt in the wound’ is akin to drifting in space, with echoes and whispers and asteroid trails, before a booming church organ launches behind the words “You don’t know what love is”. It’s as if White has embarked on the ultimate interplanetary journey to escape the pain and loss of earthly existence.

‘The dream’ has an unmistakeable Beach Boys flavour, a reaching chord-shifting quality similar to something like ‘A day in the life as a tree’ from Surf’s up.

The elegaic near-instrumental ‘Tonight’ is reminiscient of the outer reaches of Paddy McAloon, as White hums along to an irresistible meandering synth symphony. It’s 12 minutes long but the minutes fly by in a kind of extended rapture.

The ambient space hum of the title track, replete with choral and cosmic undertones, is another heavenly 14 minute kosmische drift of endless possibilities.

There’s even a cover of a Camera Obscura song, ‘Country mile’, as if the album wasn’t glorious enough already.

I’m not sure if melancholy is the right word but there is a definite sadness running through the record. However it is wrapped in such gorgeous and intriguing musical forms that it doesn’t seem to define the record.

Which makes this an uplifting and triumphant record.

The Fiction Aisle Live Session

God Is In The TV

The Fiction Aisle, live @ Lick – ‘The Colour of Morning’


‘Each And Every One’

“We were approached a while back by Tom Lavis at Lick to come in and record a session, and things being what they are, other stuff just kept getting in the way, we were finishing off the record, blah blah. Cut a long story short we finally got a date everyone was around (there being nine of us, that ain’t such a small ask) and we got in there and hashed it out in an afternoon. We had a blast doing it. I guess different bands thrive in very different environments. I’m a geek at heart – there’s nothing I love more than really homing in on the sonics and getting all that stuff bang on, and with the Lick session we were given ample time to get everyone comfortable and really focus on the music. In terms of the songs, we chose three that we felt sat together well – Blue opens the record, and has become something of a signature tune for us, at least at this point in time. It seems to do most of the things that we do across the rest of the record, but encapsulated in a four minute song. Each & Every One is another song that people seem to have latched onto. It was one of the first tracks I completed when I was initially conceiving of the group, and as such it feels like a real exploratory track for me, musically and lyrically. I can hear myself pulling in different directions, trying quite a few things that were very new to me at the time. Finally we chose The Colour Of Morning. That track for me really is the centrepiece of the album. It’s quite different to most of the other songs, extremely slow, with a verse that doesn’t really do much, then a chorus that explodes out of nowhere, then an outro that is possibly the most saturated, full-on passage on the album. As our guitar player Louis said, it somehow captures the band’s full range of dynamics within one song.”

The Fiction Aisle’s Heart Map Rubric

The Fiction Aisle’s Heart Map Rubric is out now across all platforms, but to purchase from iTunes or Bandcamp would be to directly support the group.


Visit The Fiction Aisle Facebook for more info and shows.

Each And Every One, Soon Enough The Morning Comes, Outskirts:

Each And Every One

Sleep Tight:


Heart Map Rubric Reviews and Interviews – click links to read in full What are the main influences on your sound?

The band takes cues from all sorts of things. We’re all massive Broadcast fans – Trish Keenan has been a huge influence on all of us over the years. Likewise Goldfrapp has had an enduring influence on my songwriting, though one of my biggest influences over the past few years absolutely has to be The Clientele. Alastair Maclean’s writing and guitar playing hit me straight away, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. During the very early stages of putting the band together I listened to a lot of Noel Coward, Chet Baker and Irving Berlin. The greats of the jazz age played a huge part in crystallising in my mind what it was that I wanted to achieve with this group.

How would you describe your sound?

The group is probably best described as a cross between a jazz band of the 1930s and a psych-rock group of the 1970s. There’s orchestral instruments in there – clarinets, trumpet, piano – but we also have three electric guitarists, and the sound can get very layered, so there’s always lots of contrasting elements playing off each other. Tom has now made a big jump away from his previous endeavours, forming The Fiction Aisle in 2014 with no less than nine musicians from the who’s who of Brighton artists including Alan Grice (Octopuses and Fierce Friend), Adam Kidd (Fragile Creatures), Louis Macgillivray, Gemma Williams (Woodpecker Woolliams and Becky Becky), Holly Fitzgerald, Jordan Duggie (Actress Hands), Iain Worrall (Spectrum and TV One) and Craig Chapman. The sound is more jazz inspired lounge music than the alternative rock or punk that featured in previous projects – being described “as a cross between a jazz band of the 1930s and a psych-rock group of the 1970s”. This really excites me and it should excite you too, as it is bold and far away from anything you would have heard of recently.

Heart Map Rubric really is a theatrical masterpiece of orchestrated wonderment and it is sure to make you want to seek its outcome more and more as you listen. Tom has obviously put a lot of thought into how the songs flow, mould and fit together, utilising the large amount of talent involved to get what started out in his imagination onto an audio file. He has created a gorgeous soundtrack of self-inspection that is reminiscent of the easy-listening High Llamas or the lush sounds of Goldfrapp, but done in a way that is so unique and weirdly current that it will make you obsess. White has perfected a knack for complex musical arrangement and maximalist melodic counterpoint, an approach that reaches its logical, mind-boggling conclusion with The Fiction Aisle’s audacious, sprawling debut album. With echoes of 1940s jazz at its most louche and lush, the 10-piece group infuses that seductive atmosphere with stark modern ambiance – skittish drum breaks, distant brass and layered guitars providing an unsettling backdrop for deeply personal ruminations on life and love.

For 62 compelling minutes, The Fiction Aisle thread disparate themes into a complete whole – cavernous walls of distortion underpin meticulously arranged orchestral passages, lone voices emerge wide-eyed and pure amid the cacophony, the precise and exact in harmony with the vague and ambiguous, calling forth past eras yet pregnant with possibility in a bright, beautiful present. The record is lazy, subdued and patient from start to finish but despite the vocabulary I use to describe it, it’s far from dull. Every track is a sonic journey through jazz, alternative rock, lo-fi and lounge-core. Every track gives the band’s entire host of instruments a chance to shine. Every track blossoms with time, beginning simplistically, easy to digest then the layers of instruments develop thickly, and the innards of each track hold lovely surprises.

Heart Map Rubric is record is a gem and I’m proud to have it sitting in my musical collection. The lyrics are simultaneously serious, comical, melancholic and celebratory describing love, lust, internal strife and reflection and they sit so very perfectly atop the rich and overflowing instrumentals. The Fiction Aisle’s avant-garde, exquisite approach to dealing with a whole load of shit is something to be admired. Frontman Thomas White, of Electric Soft Parade and Brakes fame, describes his ‘Heart Map Rubric’ album as a dumping of his twenties when he struggled with self-destruction, self-realisation, and a whole lot more.

“The record is really one massive, fuck-off break-up record. I’d spent my twenties in a series of by turns beautiful, and rather destructive, relationships. I got to about 26 and came out as gay. As I remember it, pretty much overnight. In fact I met a guy while out in Egypt on holiday, and I think that romance gave me the courage to come back home and be myself, be totally open about my sexuality. He was an amazing guy. I remember him very fondly.

Incidentally my father came out at almost exactly the same time. Not an easy few months. The album details a lot of what I experienced during my first proper relationship with a man, the relationship itself and also the break-up and my immediate life following it. I won’t go into detail out of respect, but it ended pretty horrifically. We both hurt each other in unimaginable ways. Me as much as him. I guess when I first broke through that psychological wall I was in ecstasy – I’d spent so many years dreaming of being with a man, to finally find the strength to just fuck what other people think and be myself, that’s a hugely liberating feeling.

The record quite directly documents the last year of that relationship and the following year, which turned out to be pretty fucking crazy for me too. Drugs, lots of drinking, some pretty nuts times. Not an easy ride, turning thirty. Running parallel to all that was a bunch of musical stuff that just wasn’t going where I wanted it to go, hence the record is a massive musical left-turn for me. I’d pretty much spent my twenties ploughing this indie-pop furrow, and I was just done with it, totally done.

A switch flipped when I heard Frank Sinatra’s version of ‘London By Night’. I just thought, “What am I doing? Where is this stuff going?”. It suddenly didn’t feel right to be doing what I’d done for the past ten years, and I think at its core ‘Heart Map Rubric’ is me drawing this big, fuck-off line under my twenties, in every possible sense.” Sad bunch The Fiction Aisle wince the night away with a series of boldly sentimental indie pop tunes lit with the fiery guitars of Coldplay and Embrace plus the melodic delicacy of Death Cab and the Shins. This anthemic, twilit sound bridges that gap between towering post-Britpop Heart Map Republic and low-key rock, with hints of the band’s beloved jazz and prog. That big music. Alan Grice (Octopuses, Fierce Friend), Adam Kidd (Fragile Creatures), Louis Macgillivray, Gemma Williams (Woodpecker Woolliams and Becky Becky), Holly Fitzgerald, Jordan Duggie (Actress Hands), Iain Worrall (Spectrum and Tv One) and Craig Chapman are the eight musicians involved in the new band of Thomas White, which many will remember at the helm of the Electric Soft Parade, and then a member of Brakes (as well as the author of three solo albums including the valuable “The Maximalist”).

After a year of recording the debut of the Fiction Aisle takes shape, giving us the authentic surprise at the end of the year, which arrived in time to overturn the usual sound budget. The cover, in perfect Keith Haring style, traces the native city of Brighton through a symbolic neural network, almost evoking the difficult and turbulent relationship of love and hate that White lived with a man met in Egypt, raw material of the texts of ‘album.

The love of jazz in the 40s and 50s is the real novelty for the English musician, who takes over part of the melancholic “Idiots”, a sporadic record return of the Electric Soft Parade, unfortunately ignored by the public and critics.

In “Heart Map Rubric” there remains that fascinating romantic grandeur that connected Burt Bacharach and Noel Coward in a single lyrical fresco, with Thomas White skilled architect of melancholic and nostalgic ballad, where the refined psychedelic of Pink Floyd reappears (“The Color Of Morning” “) And the solar geometry of the orchestral pop of the Clients (” Blue “).

Frank Sinatra and his album “London By Night” are the model that the Fiction Aisle aspires constantly, keeping the most indie-pop instincts at bay, and exploring the boundaries of the most cultured songwriting, imbued with romanticism by a perfect crooner. In fact, jazz is the primordial source of one of the pearls of the album, or the succulent sonorous wedding of piano, organ, strings and guitar of “Love Come Save Me”.

Scrutinizing the pages of “Heart Map Rubric” you can enjoy the original contaminations of paso doble in “Major Seventh”, which find space between an uptempo melody and delicious arrangements of wind, taking possession of the piece and completely altering the lyrical destination.

Similarly audacious “Each & Every One”, ennobled by inflections of bossa nova and jazz, which evoke “La Dolce Vita” by Fellini and the first smoky jazz-clubs; the Fiction Aisle then further sink their hands in vintage romanticism, with double bass and acoustic guitar engaged in a precious duet (“Fears”) in which residual traces of psychedelia and the indolence of the Beach Boys shine.

White however cleverly keeps away from the lounge temptations that could arise from the contamination between jazz and indie-pop, this is due to the lack of stylistic compromises designed to deviate the planning, even when electroacoustic effervescences seem to excel (“What’s A Man To Do?” ) the music is disturbed by obscure noir-psych plots.

Refined and seductive, the sound fabric sewn by Fiction Aisle does not show smudges, timbres and colors stand out sharp and full of contrasts, sometimes fading towards a black and white photographic.

Cinematic, almost theatrical, “Heart Map Rubric” is made to love with every listening, without ever losing depth and class. In fact, the longest tracks that capture the most attention: “Outskirts” reconditions the canons of melodic rock with an electroacoustic minimalism that is fed by dark vibrations and an almost elegiac pathos, “The Sea Rolls On Forever” offers instead lightness and lighthearted lyrical, despite the precious and original harmonic counterpoints that triumph in the rampant final refrain.

The maturity of the songwriting is even more evident in the acoustics “New Year’s Day” and in the concluding “Soon Enough The Morning Comes”, an ambitious ballad by the baroque neoclassicism, which puts a precious seal on one of the best albums of the year. Brighton’s own, and the latest in a long-line of projects from the mind of Mercury Prize nominated Electric Soft Parade frontman Thomas White, The Fiction Aisle bring together a fine assortment of Brighton’s best musicians to create a truly glorious sound. It’s epic, progressive pop of the highest level. The Fiction Aisle released their debut album, Heart Map Rubric, late in 2015 on Thomas’s own label imprint (Chord Orchard), garnering 6Music’s attention alongside a slew of glowing reviews for both the album and their live shows. Combining a love of classic song-writing, with hints of jazz and lounge, alongside schizophrenic nose-dives into the heavier territory explored by 70s prog rock, this unique group are not to be missed. The Fiction Aisle’s debut HEART MAP RUBRIC is a beautiful record, orchestral, moody, genuinely pretty arrangements and melodies, fans of the Lilac Time/Prefab Sprout/Trashcan Sinatras will like this. The low register vocals may remind one of Elbow as well… My favorite tunes after a couple listens – Sleep Tight, Love Come Save Me, Major Seventh, The Colour of Morning, Outskirts. A new 10-strong project from former Electric Soft Parade and Brakes singer Thomas White, this isn’t quite what you may expect from his past outfits. Out go the psychedelic colours and in comes shades of 40s jazz and lounge, with lush orchestrations of brass and strings, and whispery, soft crooning vocals (on Sleep Tight he recalls McCartney a la Fool On The Hill). Here the dreaminess of the bossa nova styled Each & Every One or Broadwayesque piano ballad The Colour of Morning sit alongside more cacophonous moments such as Major Seventh and What’s A Man To Do while New Year’s Day offers more folksy acoustic guitar and an eight minute The Sea Rolls On Forever and Outskirts suggest Lloyd Cole and early Bee Gees, respectively. A definite and audacious musical sea change, this may have old fans baffled and bemused, but, inspired by Sinatra’s recording of London By Night, it should find him a whole new audience among those whose CD collections include Alison Goldfrapp, Babybird and Edwyn Collins. Part of that exploration came early on, when White was played Sinatra’s London By Night [from the rare album Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain] by Alex, who also drums on the Fiction Aisle album.

“It was one of those situations where I realised I had written myself into a corner with how I write,” says White.

“Writing on a laptop makes it so easy to map out arrangements. If you’re using a four-track or analogue equipment it’s much easier to end up with something a little bit more serpentine.”

The major inspiration was White deciding to de-tune the high e string on his guitar.

“I discovered this odd jazzy chord I had never used before and started experimenting with going to it from other chords,” he says. “It’s all over the record – on [album opener] Blue and The Sea Rolls On Forever.

“It was one of those breakthrough things – I’ve been playing guitar for 15 years and I’ve found a new chord.”

“It’s really heartening to see people in the band who have never really played in a group before. They started really nervous, but they are now really taking ownership of the songs as their baby.”

“This band has got to reflect how all over the shop I am in terms of what I listen to and what I want to play. I would like the group to evolve on each record quite radically.

“It’s really exciting – when I started this I thought it would just be me sat in my bedroom as usual, but it has turned into something completely different.” This album is a gorgeous New Year surprise. Much of it is a delicious investigation of old-fashioned pre-rock songwriting, but done from the heart rather than for kitsch kicks. Sometimes this means it wanders into easy listening which, after all, was originally just swing generation musicians continuing in their own sweet way long after the world had followed The Beatles instead. Then again, there’s also something of The Beatles here too…

Heart Map Rubric mostly veers away from his psyche and indie side. It’s the first output from White’s new nine-piece collective, fired up by his rediscovery of Sinatra and the personal rollercoaster he’s been on since he came out as a gay man a few years ago. He seems to have taken a battering, with heartbreak writ large… Overdue vinyl release for the debut from Electric Soft Parader Thomas White’s latest incarnation, which came out at the start of last year. Think Smiths-era Morrissey or Lloyd Cole writing a coming out album of heartache, but doing so via the elegance of pre-rock’n’roll songwriters, and a smidgeon of Robert Wyatt. It is, in other words, original and touching, lathered in strings in places. Arriving on two discs in lyric inner sleeves, it’s heart-on-sleeve stuff but not mopey and maudlin. White looks everything in the eye with a clarity that’s both moving and pop.

Vive Le Rock: