Album Reviews

Sudden Voices: Sudden Voices

Ben Morris returns with his first new full-length release in over a decade.

They say timing is everything, and the adage certainly rings true for Ben Morris.

In many ways, Morris’ ’90s project, Union Wireless, could have been considered ahead of its time. Channelling inflections of kraut-rock with the ghost of Bark Psychosis, Union Wireless were offering a bright alternative compared to many of their creative peers during this time.

The turn of the new century welcomed in bright new art rock probables such as Wild Beasts and These New Puritans, and by this point Morris was merely lurking in the shadows on hiatus. During a period which proved as the backend to left of centre artists being able to pay the bills on the strength of their creative endeavours, it was unfortunate that one of the leading voices in this space was largely on the fringes.

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Fast forward 15 years and Morris is back under the guise of Sudden Voices. The new music landscape has changed considerably during the days of Union Wireless, however Morris has used his time away from music wisely, developing and stretching out his ideas, and on Sudden Voices’ self-titled debut, he executes them to great effect in what is a fine return indeed.

It begings with Milk and Honey. Abstract in nature with shimmering collages of sound and Bark Psychosis-inspired rhythms, the gloomy atmospheres of art rock make a barnstorming return. So much so that Morris almost makes a rod for his own back leading with a track this good.

Sudden Voices - Sudden Voices

It’s no flash in the pan, though, and anyone familiar with Union Wireless’ body of work will know that Morris is a patent audiophile, welding together unlikely sources of sound with aplomb. Take the clever hooks and subtle changes in shape on the BPM siren call that is Happenstance.

On Sunrise, Morris’ unusual vocal timbres are like a blur through a forest of synths that sound like they’ve been through an industrial grinder. Fixed Orbit follows, and here Morris loosens it up with a free-jazz rhythm section as he skirts across the ivories, while on That’s All We Have, by using repetitious vocal harmonies, it creates the kind of electric hypnotic vibe not heard anywhere else on the album.

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Again, with the balladeering This Room, Morris continues to break his own creative boundaries, incorporating woodwind instrumentation that passes off the kind of vibe Miles Davis’ band captured within the rehearsal space walls. It feeds into penultimate track, In Single File – a scrupulously arranged space-jazz voyage that, like much of the Union Wireless canon, feels ahead of the curve.

Not content on finishing there, Morris takes us on a journey through the east with Meditation. A psych-infused ritualistic jam which marks a fitting end to Sudden Voices.

While timing is everything, perhaps Morris’ return with Sudden Voices was written in the stars. That’s the way of the world” he sings on Summer Insomnia. And while it’s not getting any easier, joining the likes of fellow experimental purveyors, All Structures Align, a world with Sudden Voices in it is a far better one, and in the realms of art rock, here’s hoping this is just the start of a new chapter.

Sudden Voices is out now. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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