A thread for the self-taught violinist, electronic musician, amateur ethnomusicologist and R&B singer SUDAN ARCHIVES

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So her album, 'Athena' is stunning - this feels very much of a piece with Kelsey Lu's 'Blood', not just the precocity of the approach, but the way she builds thoroughly modern, digital music around a traditional string instrument. She taught herself the violin, listening to Sudanese music on Youtube and trying to incorporate those sounds, and building abstract pop music out of it.

Which tended to result in music that I appreciated rather than loved, until the new record where she's paired that approach with actual pop songs, and wow.

And yes, it's as precocious as you'd expect from a record with songs called 'Black Vivaldi Sonata' and 'Ballet of the Unhatched Twins I'. It's also lush, consistently interesting and regularly gorgeous.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 20:08 (two years ago) link

I love her first two e.p.s, they reminded me of Tricky/Bjork/Erykah Badu among others, but I'm finding the album more polished and less interesting, but I'll give it more time.

fetter, Wednesday, 13 November 2019 21:32 (two years ago) link

Timing is weird for me. Also loved the first two EPs but I’m not in the mood for the album atm and the couple of times I’ve tried I get bored. I really liked the Iceland song and was an early highlight but I’m putting it on hold for later.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Thursday, 14 November 2019 02:55 (two years ago) link

this is indeed very good, more strings in everything

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Thursday, 14 November 2019 06:47 (two years ago) link

i saw her last summer at a festival and she was stunning

alpine static, Thursday, 14 November 2019 07:17 (two years ago) link

Really like this album and agree with Matt’s opening post.

Tim F, Thursday, 14 November 2019 07:49 (two years ago) link

The album flows a lot better somehow if you move or skip 'Black Vivaldi Sonata', which feels way too early in the tracklisting given how abstract it is.

Very taken with the ridiculousness of 'Glorious' right now, and also the desperation of 'Limitless'.

Matt DC, Thursday, 14 November 2019 09:40 (two years ago) link

I am in love with this.

brigadier pudding (DJP), Thursday, 14 November 2019 16:02 (two years ago) link

It sounds awesome on paper but 'Confessions' isn't doing much for me, she's playing it way too safe. How's the rest of the album in comparison?

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 November 2019 16:13 (two years ago) link

It's a pop/r&b album, how adventurous does it need to be to be good?

brigadier pudding (DJP), Thursday, 14 November 2019 16:14 (two years ago) link

I dislike 99% of pop/r&b so very.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 November 2019 16:16 (two years ago) link

do you like dawn richard

imago, Thursday, 14 November 2019 17:03 (two years ago) link

No. I think I only like modern r&b when it's depressing and doesn't talk about relationships (or only incidentally).

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 November 2019 17:29 (two years ago) link

So... you only like The Weeknd?

brigadier pudding (DJP), Thursday, 14 November 2019 17:58 (two years ago) link

Nah, I'm being overly reductive. D'Angelo, Solange and Kelela are probably the three I've enjoyed the most over the past five years.

pomenitul, Thursday, 14 November 2019 18:01 (two years ago) link

This is sounding nice. Very breezy considering all the layers. Although like Matt I don't really get what Black Vivaldi Sonata is doing in the context of the other tracks but maybe it'll become apparent on relistens

imago, Thursday, 14 November 2019 18:06 (two years ago) link

From NY Times:
Parks recently started working with a violin teacher to expand her technique. She is also planning her first non-solo tour, joined by a pianist, that she intends to present as a surreal variation on a classical violin-and-piano recital. Her microphone stand will be shaped like a silvery snake.


curmudgeon, Thursday, 14 November 2019 19:42 (two years ago) link

tbh I'm all for melding the chamber recital with R&B and the Korn/Ministry stage design aesthetic

brigadier pudding (DJP), Thursday, 14 November 2019 19:44 (two years ago) link

More from Pareles article in NY Times

Stones Throw encouraged her to try writing songs with producers including Rodaidh McDonald (who worked with the xx), Paul White (who has worked with Charli XCX) and Ernest Greene (who records as Washed Out). Working in her bedroom studio, she also built increasingly elaborate string arrangements, bringing a new orchestral richness to some songs and placing abstract instrumental transitions between album tracks.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 14 November 2019 19:44 (two years ago) link

Cellist Marie Spaemann is doing something similar that I like a lot better:


shared unit of analysis (unperson), Saturday, 16 November 2019 17:53 (two years ago) link

that isn't bad but I'm not sure it's really doing anything similar, it's way, way more smooth jazz coffeeshop

like, I’m eating an elephant head (katherine), Sunday, 17 November 2019 05:35 (two years ago) link

Playing my town the same night as Wire. Already like this enough to be conflicted about it!

geoffreyess, Sunday, 17 November 2019 15:21 (two years ago) link

if marie spaemann's cello playing is "self-taught" i'm really impressed because she's flat up playing stuff from bach's cello suites on that record

comes off like classical crossover to me, but i like it. wonder how long before she collaborates with robert glasper.

tantric societal collapse (rushomancy), Sunday, 17 November 2019 16:13 (two years ago) link

No. I think I only like modern r&b when it's depressing and doesn't talk about relationships (or only incidentally).

― pomenitul, Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:29 PM bookmarkflaglink

So... you only like The Weeknd?

― brigadier pudding (DJP), Thursday, November 14, 2019 12:58 PM bookmarkflaglink


Jordan Pickford LOLverdrive (Neanderthal), Sunday, 17 November 2019 16:18 (two years ago) link

love this record, a lot

The Man Who Was Thirsty (Noodle Vague), Monday, 18 November 2019 11:45 (two years ago) link

don't really understand the issue with "Black Vivaldi Sonata" tbh, one of the highlights i think, lush and psyched out and full of longing, "Glorious" is absolutely well named and ought to be 4 times as long

FBPRieu (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 23 November 2019 11:36 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

has anyone seen her live? snapped up a ticket for her upcoming gig here

bold caucasian eroticism (Simon H.), Sunday, 26 January 2020 00:49 (two years ago) link

one year passes...


^ enjoyed this performance. second tune giving me big penguin cafe orchestra vibes

primate marmite (NickB), Monday, 11 October 2021 15:22 (eleven months ago) link

Third tune is lovely too, getting some toumani diabate-esque kora-type sounds there

primate marmite (NickB), Monday, 11 October 2021 15:30 (eleven months ago) link

nine months pass...

oh. my. goodness.

This new single is FIRE. I cannot wait for this album drop.


octobeard, Monday, 11 July 2022 01:39 (two months ago) link

Titties up !

Nabozo, Monday, 11 July 2022 07:57 (two months ago) link

this and "Selfish Soul" are rhythmically ingenious, both jumped out at me like early MIA tracks. I didn't love the last album like her opening salvos, but I may like this latest turn most of all.

bendy, Monday, 11 July 2022 20:16 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

the new album is so cool, i'm obsessed

monotony, Monday, 12 September 2022 07:50 (three weeks ago) link

The singles have been LIT. This is my most anticipated record of the year and can't wait to dive in.

octobeard, Monday, 12 September 2022 17:51 (three weeks ago) link

Never listened to Sudan Archives before but I am floored by this album. It's been a while since I've heard something this BIG, expansive, and coherently flowing from start to finish. The flawless combination of styles -- hip-hop, rap, electronic, experimental -- reminds me a bit of FKA Twigs (though I've never connected with her, personally).

Indexed, Thursday, 22 September 2022 19:28 (one week ago) link

She really balances this intensely self-examined, self-contained world with the witty and chill Stones Throw vibe.

bendy, Saturday, 24 September 2022 16:49 (one week ago) link

so good. "Freakalizer" song of the year.

sloop johnnin' skater (geoffreyess), Sunday, 25 September 2022 18:27 (one week ago) link

Live show was incredible. Her personality exudes the most exuberant, adorable energy both on stage and off. Danced in the crowd, played an Irish jig for a bit, and fucking slayed every one of her tracks. She was as excited for the crowd as we were for her. The show sold out (SF) which I think it was the first sellout of her tour so far, and she openly expressed her disbelief that this was now her career! I'm a dork and just had to get her to sign the new record too. I definitely got the madness.

octobeard, Wednesday, 28 September 2022 06:29 (one week ago) link

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