Thomas White: Black Bunny

The Gold In The Dark EP from Black Bunny featuring Thomas White is out now and it includes a 9 minute song with hints of Morrissey. Facebook Page here Stream and download at Chord Orchard here Tracks are: Two Dicks, Three Men In A Boat, These Things Take Time, Smurf, Tinsel On The Crown. The video is shot by Alex and edited by Thomas.


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:

The Fiction Aisle – limited download EP To coincide with our shows this week (see Facebook) we’ll be issuing a limited download EP featuring a new mix of Blue, along with remixes of the lead track by Acquaintance, JØTA and British Sea Power, available completely free from our Soundcloud page from 28/08/15. It is with great pleasure that we can also announce the upcoming release of our debut album proper, Heart Map Rubric, available digitally worldwide (with extremely limited edition hand-numbered gatefold digipaks available direct by mail order from Chord Orchard), 27/11/15. Pre-orders from late October…

Blue JØTA Remix Blue announces the arrival of his latest grouping, however, and the track is every bit as searingly sensitive as we’ve come to expect. Shaped by White’s dimmed lead vocal, the track is a nocturnal ode to self-inspection, a darkened unraveling that comes alive under a weighty backdrop of flourishing instrumentation which always treads one step behind the protagonist. The Fiction Aisle is a new band, of sorts. If you’re Brightoner though, you might know them. Tom White of the Electric Soft Parade has always been busy, be it playing with Sparks, Patrick Wolf or his own solo efforts. He’s now sitting soft, musically. For all the thrashing we love as teenagers, Tom’s moved, big-time, into an orchestral Burt Bacharach-esque appreciation of lounge music in it’s finest, most stirring, form.

Having previously only teased out a couple of remixes, including one of British Sea Power’s Loving Animals, Blue, the Fiction Aisle’s debut offering – and let’s be clear this is a band, a 10 piece band no less – has the percussive soft salsa-shuffle of Sergio Mendes, the piano tinkles of New York’s early morning cocktail club performers and Tom’s voice croons like Robert Wyatt in a deeper baritone.

Being a 10-piece everything is here; a brass swell, rhythmically plucked guitars, lingering pianos. Yet whilst the band has more than enough capacity for bluster, this is a soft piece. The chorus shimmers… softly. Tom reflects on a love not quite strong enough to endure… softly and without malice or regret. It’s sublime.

Lounge music and the theatre of musicals are maybe niche genres when it comes to the average music fan’s repertoire, but they shouldn’t be. In many respects both are genres in desperate need of resurrection for music’s sake if nothing else, and The Fiction Aisle have the talent to turn an ember into a fire. The Fiction Aisle are a band at the start of an exciting journey, and Tom White a writer moving beyond being a proponent of the zeitgeist into a truly unique voice.

The Fiction Aisle – New Single

The Fiction Aisle – New Single: Major Seventh / Each & Every One Debut AA-side single, released to coincide with Record Store Day 2015. Written by Thomas White. Recorded and mixed at Church Road Studios, Sept 2014 – March 2015. Thomas White: vocals, guitars, keys – Heather Urquhart: vocals – Louis Macgillivray: guitar – Adam Kidd: guitar – Alan Grice: keys – Craig Chapman: trumpet – Gemma WIlliams: clarinet – Holly Fitzgerald: clarinet – Jordan Duggie: bass – Alex White: drums, percussion. The Fiction Aisle FacebookChord Orchard Label

A Promise Kept seems to be also known as Major Seventh. And it is precisely The Fiction Aisle that interests us today on the occasion of a brand new single. Openly influenced by The Clientele and Broadcast or jazz luminaries like Chet Baker, Thomas White offers with A Promise Kept and Each & Every One two precious compositions arranged with the tact that is known to him, directing without blinking the nine musicians of his together pop. Another title, Blue, was unveiled last November. There’s a feel much akin to ‘Mars Audiac Quintet’ era Stereolab when listening to this Brighton combo’s Double A-side header “A Promise Kept”. The climb on this track is reminiscent of some of the music in James Bond’s ‘Moonraker’, especially during the assassination of Drax’s deadly weapon! I’m enjoying the outro of polished sax, which more than suits their wall of sound. Tight rhythms complement the brass section, with spells of what sounds like a xylophone. “Each & Every One” has more of a jazz influence to it. I like the lyrics as they relate to isolation and realism. Ry Cooder springs to mind with this offering and maybe even The James Taylor Quartet. I could imagine this going down well in The Bee’s Mouth on Western Road, so may have to venture to my old place of residence to catch them live at some point.

First We Take Manhattan feat Thomas White

First We Take Manhattan Bandcamp Listen/Download 8 track album Stitch. Tracks: Seven, Coming Out, No Wind Blows, Pleased To Meet You, Always Dependent, Place Of No More, The World We Live In, Morning. has a review (click to read) Some quotes: “Stitch” is the début album by First We Take Manhattan, a collaboration between Brighton musicians Jack Bayne and Tom White. Those who know their indie will probably be familiar with one of those names, the latter being one of the creative forces of The Electric Soft Parade, as well as being part of Brighton “supergroup” Brakes and having a handful of wonderfully eclectic solo albums to his name. Jack Bayne is probably an unknown quantity to most people, unless you happened to catch his band Pony who were part of the Brighton music scene over ten years ago, but it is Jack who is responsible for the songwriting on this project, with Tom being given the freedom to take charge of the arrangements, instrumentation, production and nearly everything else you hear, other than the vocals and a smattering of Jack’s guitar and cello. The album was recorded almost casually over the space of three years as an ongoing creative venture when Tom and Jack got together to have a good time and, astonishingly when you hear this music, the two friends only realised that they had a fully-formed album when they came back to their songs after a few months break from recording.

“Stitch” is an enormously emotional experience, frequently edgy, packed full of tension and release, one that places just as much importance on the songs as it does the delivery and the overall glorious world of sound you are immersed into. In a world full of people who demand instant music fixes from barely musically-literate pop singers, Bayne and White provide musical manna for those who demand a little more substance and depth amongst the exhilarating pure adrenaline rushes dotted amongst their tracks. This is music that feels urgent, alive and vital. It boasts arrangements and structures that make your mind work and enough light and shade contrast to give your emotional core a real workout. Listen to it, love it, buy it.

Electric Soft Parade: The End? Live Review 15th April: “Unfortunately, just before the end, Thomas announced that Electric Soft Parade were going to be no more. After that gig, that’s it – the last time they were ever going to be playing in the UK, ever… Still, we have a new, upcoming Alex White solo album coming up. Thomas has a new group and we’ll hopefully hear something new from him soon, too”

Update from the ESP Facebook (click link for full thing) “…with IDIOTS we genuinely feel like we’ve made the musical and artistic statement of our career – songs, production, singing, writing, playing, lyrics, arrangements. Yet there’s a feeling of not knowing quite where to go next when you’ve just nailed what you’ve been trying to achieve for so many years… The reality is that we are moving on. My new project has taken a year or so to evolve into something tangible, but it’s taking shape now, and I’m massively excited about it. Alex, on the other hand, has just written and recorded the album of his life… The irony is we’re now working together more than ever, and f***ing loving it. I’ll certainly be giving Al a bell when I need a drummer. So, what next for The Electric Soft Parade? There’s a possibility of a few more shows dotted throughout the year, and we’ll confirm and announce them as and when. Beyond that, who knows? We’ve had a ball writing and playing these songs for you, it’s been a f***ing hell of a journey, and we’ve loved and hated it in almost precisely equal measure. But right now it feels like we both need to spread our wings and f*** off and do something else for a while”