More than 10,000 kilometres separate Khartoum and Cleveland. A distance erased in one fell swoop by Brittney Parks, aka Sudan Archives, on her magnificent first album, Athena, a deserving recipient of the Qobuzissime honour!
At 24 years old, the self-taught American who grew up in Ohio builds some unlikely yet strong bridges between the sounds of the continents. And her contemporary, languid and dreamy soul is unlike any other…
The violin, prevalent in the Sudanese music which she admires so much, is her tool of preference. It’s a sound that she meshes together with electro and some light hip hop beats. In 2016, Sudan Archives even covered Kendrick Lamar’s King Kunta (re-baptised Queen Kuta) using just her voice, the violin and an effect pedal.
Her unusual musical fusions were conceived from a revelation the Los Angeles-based artist had while listening to recordings by the Cameroonian Francis Bebey, an artist who himself blended African music with minimalist electro.
On Athena, released on Stones Throw, the excellent Californian label started by Peanut Butter Wolf which specialises in underground rap and kooky funk, Sudan Archives certainly draws on the legacy of the queens of underground soul (Erykah Badu, Solange) all the while retaining her originality. And her futuristic afro-R&B, which has layers upon layers of different sounds, shows enough avant-garde talent to make her stand out from the crowd. A shock, but a sweet one.