NPR

'I'm Different, But I'm From Here': Sudan Archives Reaches The End Of Her Beginning

After two abbreviated releases she likens to experimentalist haikus, the singular 25-year-old artist refined her voice and expanded her collaborations to create a stunning, singular debut.
Sudan Archives, performing at the FORM Arcosanti festival on May 11, 2018 in Arcosanti, Arizona. Source: Tim Mosenfelder

"I'm not gonna be that artist that's gonna put out the same body of work until I die, because that's probably gonna be the reason I die — 'cause that sounds boring."

Brittney Parks, the 25-year-old artist who records as Sudan Archives, speaks the way her music sounds — meandering passages that flutter and unravel, threading darkness and humor, creating novel avenues to fundamental truths. The truth she's landed on here — that a lack of change might literally kill her — is evident in her work, which never sits still.

The throughline in the Cincinnati-raised L.A. transplant's music is the violin, but listening through her catalog — two EPs and her debut album Athena, just released — it would be remiss to reduce it all to that one instrument. Those first two EPs, Sudan Archives from 2017 and Sink the year after, were splintered emulsions of filtered strings, gurgly synth bass and programmed drums, drawing from R&B, L.A. beat music and West African fiddle music. Athena, by contrast, is glossy and refined; the songs are longer, the grooves run deeper. Themes of family, rebelliousness and heartbreak frame and shape the album, giving it thematic cohesion and helping to establish a singular voice.

But before the violin loops, DIY beats and oddball melodies, Sudan Archives was nearly a pop star. Recognizing her and her twin sister's talents, Sudan's stepfather — a music industry big-shot who had helped launch LaFace Records (once home to TLC, OutKast and Goodie Mob) — tried to

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