Sudan Archives: North African style violin + West Coast RnB, funk, soul
November 6, 2019 8:51 AM Subscribe
Sudan Archives (stage name of Brittney Denise Parks) is a self-taught musician, who blends North African inspired violin (naming Asim Gorashi and Francis Bebey as notable influences) with wonky and experimental R'n'B. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her musical career, where she signed to Stones Throw, who put out her two EPs, and now her debut album, all of which is up on her Bandcamp account. Sudan Archives talked with Stereogum and shared the story behind every song on her new album Athena, an autobiography documenting her tribulations and her successes.
More from Stereogum:
More from Stereogum:
It’s an epic poem of duality, named after the goddess of wisdom, war, and the arts (just to name a few). “Whenever I see pictures, I don’t see any black female goddesses,” she tells me over the phone. “People think that Athena is a Greek goddess but she’s not actually real. I thought it’d be cool to do a flip on that because she’s a magical creature.”Bonus videos: Moogfest 2017 Sudan Archives w/ Peanut Butter Wolf (audience clip, 2:34) | SUDAN ARCHIVES live in the POWWAW (2016, 20 minutes) | Sudan Archives - Paid | Live Plus Près De Toi (2017, 5 minutes)
Athena has been understood as a hero and a villain; different interpretations have illustrated her acts as compassionate or hateful. This choice hits close to home for Parks. Before she was Sudan Archives, her stepfather Derrick Ladd, a record producer and co-founder of LaFace Records, tried to make her and her twin sister a pop duo. The project wasn’t a fit for her, resulting in the disbanding of the project and her final takeaway that she might be the “bad twin.”
Athena explores this binary understanding of morality. Its 14 tracks are a dynamic prism showcasing defiance, elegance, confidence, and whimsy. She elevates the violin as an object that is simultaneously precious and strong-willed. Similar to last year’s Sink EP (Bandcamp), Athena is fluid and nimble. But it also stands firm. Sudan wields her strings like a clenched fist on the lead single “Confessions” (music video). The adjacent track “Black Vivaldi Sonata” (audio with still image) is both lush and anxious. She understands the instrument’s full potential, playfully unfolding its capabilities like a Jacob’s ladder.