REVIEW: Sudan Archives - Sink

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Raquel Dalarossa

At 17, Brittney Parks declared that she didn’t like her first name. In response, her mother granted her a new one: Sudan. Today, the woman once known as Brittney writes, records, and produces her own music as Sudan Archives, a project that’s as self-determining and uncontainable as its creator. On her latest EP, Sink, she crystallizes her varied influences and inspirations—minimalist R&B, North African folk, electronic pop—into something entirely her own.

At this point, Sink—released May 25th via Stones Throw Records—has already been making the rounds through every music blog and tastemaker’s playlist, and that’s no surprise for an EP that was clearly intended to make waves. From its bold cover art to its declarative lead single “Nont for Sale,” Sink is proof that Sudan Archives has truly arrived.

The single’s lyrics should spell it out for you: “This is my light, don’t block the sun … This is my time, don’t waste it up,” she announces over a bed of plucked strings and a trap beat. Her violin—a self-taught instrument—is a centerpiece in most of the tracks, juxtaposing electronic elements to create something of a cross between SBTRKT and Andrew Bird. But her own references are much farther reaching; on her Instagram, Sudan Archives often praises the Sudanese multi-instrumentalist Asim Gorashi, for example.

You can hear her more experimental folk leanings come out in the rich textures of tracks like “Pay Attention” and “Escape.” The former is warmly hued and grounding, like a tribal chant laced with the sounds of the outdoors, while the latter is faster paced, with watery, splashy sounds for percussion, creating the feeling of a rushing river. The vocal treatment often adds just the right kind of dimension to each track; she’s at times slinky (as in “Mind Control”), and at other times almost childish. In “Beautiful Mistake” her voice softens as she sings “I’m a beautiful mistake … I don’t give a fuck / I know that you don’t like it when I say that / But baby do you feel me?”

The confidence she exudes in each of these six tracks is a constant highlight, and that’s saying something for an EP full of standout details. One thing is for sure: Sudan Archives is an artist worth keeping an eye on, lest she take over the world.