Fiction Plane - Left Side Of The Brain
- Artist: Fiction Plane
- Album: Left Side Of The Brain
- Label: Bieler Bros. Records
- Year of Release: 2007
- ME Rating: Indie Classic
- Reviewed by: mark_morton on 2011-05-12
Fiction Plane's third outing is an excellent snapshot offering a glimpse into the mind and soul of a struggling rock band in an unforgiving musical environment. The album is a jolting departure from the tortured serenity of Bitter Forces And Lame Race Horses, but not quite as hungry or vivacious as their debut Everything Will Never Be Okay.
Unlike the majority of today's complacent rock artists, Fiction Plane is actively evolving, rather than resting comfortably in a self-imposed niche. Dropping down to a three-piece, the sobering atmosphere offered by former member Dan Brown is sparingly employed in the few songs written prior to his departure ("It's A Lie", "Drink", "Presuppose" and "Fake Light From The Sun"). This leaves ample room for the remaining troopers to tighten their sound, experiment with new sonic devices and create an album that reflects the members both as individuals and as a fierce artistic unit.
The album begins with an energetic rock track, "Anyone", that challenges the notion of traditional song structure; in that it doesn't end as much as it invites the listener in and almost too quickly ends without resolution. Joe Sumner's bass behavior taunts the listener by foreshadowing the song's chorus during the verse parts and follows the vocals during the actual chorus. Denying stereotypical closure allows the cynical anthem "Death Machine" to appropriately express itself; sneak up and slap you square in the face. Immediately, you get a sense that the band has musically progressed.
Throughout the album, Seton Daunt's guitar versatility provides a wealth of sonic experiences. He ranges from extraterrestrial reverberations and guitar manipulations that wouldn't be out of place on a Yes, Porcupine Tree, Led Zeppelin or Dream Theater album to Edge-like rock guitar god prowess; all the while providing an energetic backdrop complementing Sumner's angst-laden croon-wails and Pete Wilhoit's dexterous, jazz-like percussive syncopation affectation.
It's true; it is decidedly difficult to nail down any one band with which to compare Fiction Plane as a point of reference. At times, they portray the heartrending ability of U2, and at others, they provoke the conventions of the archetypal alternative rock act. And in some instances, including the rousing "Death Machine" and near-belligerent "Presuppose", the band summons a bit of the pogo-instilling voracity of Red Hot Chili Peppers or Jane's Addiction.
But it is through the somber `Everyman' outlook radiating from tracks like "Drink" and "Fake Light From The Sun" that I feel the true Fiction Plane emerges. These two songs, while ballad-like and slow-tempo, echo the sentiments of fear, isolation, rejection and guilt within us all. This is the charm of Fiction Plane; rather than being vapidly inconsistent, they continuously challenge the listener in a kaleidoscope of sound, not wholly unlike one of their longtime influences, Mr. Bungle.
Ultimately, Left Side of the Brain is an album not to be taken at face value, for it is more than a collection of songs from yet-another-alt-rock-band. It is not 100% deadpan seriousness, nor is it completely tongue-in-cheek frivolity. It is an aural landscape riddled with multi-hued musical designs tempered by a lyrical illustration grounded in anxiety and possibility.
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