The Fiction Aisle – Heart Map Rubric

The Fiction Aisle is quite a new name to the Brighton scene but the man behind it already has an extremely impressive string of releases. Tom White maybe more recognisable as the creator of the Mercury Prize nominated Electric Soft Parade, co- creator of the brilliant Brakes, or perhaps you have seen him playing out with Sparks, Patrick Wolf, CLOWwNS or even under his own solo moniker. 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.
Birds sing a gentle song before the start of a blossoming intro to the first track ‘Blue’, where building layers of orchestral pop create a heavy backdrop for Tom’s ever so smooth vocals. The song's searching and questioning tone cleverly sits slightly above his lyrics of autogenous thought and comprehension in a way that hints at an ongoing uncertainty. It is a truly beautiful opener which entices you to commit to the album in its entirety. Without pause, you are then gifted with the unravelling of The Fiction Aisle’s textured symphony in ‘Sleep Tight’, similar to the sound of The Clientele. Tom’s soft vocals reigning supreme throughout the down tempo melody with the delicately textured instrumentation of brass, woodwind, guitar and piano bringing bliss to the ears.
The spooky tinged ‘Love Come Save Me’ is one of my favourite songs on the album down to its exquisite piano, guitar and string combination. Eerie whines and ghostly shrieks makes this dramatic track feel like you are in a film montage – imagine the opening credits of a James Bond film with this as the soundtrack. ‘Each And Every One’ nicely brings you out the other side into the relaxing sun of the Italian Riviera. The jazzy guitar and piano harks of lounging by the water wearing a cool pair of aviator sunglasses, a cigarette in the hand, whilst having your morning coffee and croissant. At it's end, the villain in this theatrical image being created walks in surrounded by blue and minor notes, preparing you for the ‘Fear’ – “so tonight I face my demons”. The spirits are then elevated when the wistful optimism of ‘Major Seventh’ comes in, one of the stand out tracks on the album. This upbeat track with delicious horns and simmering vocal duets takes the form of a Spanish Paso-Doble sound towards it's end, giving you a slight feeling of discontent.
I won’t go on any further as 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.
If you like what you hear, make sure you get yourself to the launch of Heart Map Rubric on the 27th November at the Unitarian Church, a night that will be expansive, glorious and mesmerizing.
Iain Lauder