As Sudan Archives, Brittney Parks has combined left-field strains of R&B, hip-hop, folk, and electronic music with the fiddling style of West Africa, as heard on a pair of EPs and the full-length Athena (2019), all of which have been released on the Stones Throw label. The self-taught violinist, singer, songwriter, and producer started playing violin as a youngster in her native Cincinnati, Ohio. Parks' stepfather, Derrick Ladd -- a former music executive who had worked with L.A. Reid and Babyface as manager of the Deele and at LaFace Records -- primed Parks and her twin sister to become a teen pop act, but the effort was short-lived. After Parks moved to Los Angeles to study music technology, she started producing beats on a tablet computer with the addition of her vocals and strings, the latter increasingly inspired by immersion in Sudanese music. While attending a Low End Theory party in her adoptive hometown, Parks met A&R/producer Matthewdavid, which led to a deal with Stones Throw. The label released the artist's self-titled debut EP in July 2017. Another EP, Sink, followed ten months later. For her first LP, she took a more collaborative approach and worked with a group of fellow producers who included Paul White, Rodaidh McDonald, and Wilma Archer. Parks and company recorded enough material for at least five albums, but the artist pared down the results for the concise yet stylistically expansive Athena, released in 2019.
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
© Andy Kellman /TiVo
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R&B - Released November 1, 2019 | Stones Throw
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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. 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 Kunta) 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. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Sudan Archives in the magazine