Sudan Archives—born Brittany Parks—has cultivated a unique musical vocabulary over the course of her young career. Her path to professional musician took her from playing the violin in a Pentecostal church, to dabbling in electronic music in Cincinnati, to digging into Sudanese and West African fiddle styles, wrapping in modern hip hop/R&B influences. The result is a soulful, polyrhythmic blend of tones that subvert expectations and coalesce in one of the more fascinating artists of 2019.
Parks debuted her self-titled EP in 2017, garnering recognition from all corners of the music world for her approach to beat loops and spare instrumentals. 2018’s Sink saw an artist in bloom, diving into the lush and layered sound hinted at on Sudan Archives and pushing into new, occasionally, atonal and more hip-hop-driven movement. Her first full-length album, Athena, dropped in late 2019. If Sink glimpsed the bloom of the artist, Athena revealed a formed and polished musician, confidently winding through tracks whose sound varies, while maintaining an underlying thoughtfulness that has become a hallmark.
On display across Athena is Parks’ ability to synthesize sounds that can be disparate (stripped-down fiddle and deep synth beats) and create compelling tracks able to carry individual weight while fitting seamlessly into the larger perspective of the record. Listeners will immediately notice Parks’ unwillingness to compromise her sound and message for basic, saccharine pop flavors, and the result is an artist that has fast-tracked herself into the musical consciousness as one of the most compelling voices out there today.
Quick Track Reviews:
Confessions (Athena) – Backed by an Andrew Bird-esque fiddle beat, “Confessions” finds Parks singing about the pain of not being accepted. If the lyrics don’t get you, the click-clack beat and beautiful strings will wrap you up.
Iceland Moss (Athens) – Soft, present vocals backed by legato strings and Dondo-style drums create a lush setting for an appropriately titled track. You’ll want to sink in and catch a case of the nods.