House is a waypoint, not an endpoint, on ‘Pure Brown Promenade Queen’
Sudan Archives’ music celebrates digging. With infectious curiosity, her oddball collages of hip-hop, digital and globally sourced people bridge worlds and tramp via them, encouraging you to forge your individual routes as nicely. Throughout two EPs and an album, the self-taught violinist, producer, and songwriter has honed a definite mix of layered vocals and instrumentation that each pleases the ear and challenges it to parse all of the fusion. Her vibrant second album, Pure Brown Promenade Queen, particulars her passages between her hometown of Cincinnati, her adopted metropolis of Los Angeles and the numerous different locales, folks, and traditions that inform her idiosyncratic fashion. The file looks like a world tour of her mind, explicit but capacious — and all the time lively.
Cosmopolitan music typically leans closely into the push and the signifiers of jetsetting — accents, passports, landmarks, cuisines, runways — however Pure Brown Promenade Queen’s preoccupation is terroir, the distinct situations that make a spot distinctive. Sudan Archives does not simply expertise or devour world sounds; she interacts with them, her fingers sifting via the soil as she feels out each little factor. “Suck out the honey,” she implores on the steamy R&B observe “Milk Me,” capturing the intimacy and pleasure of her sourcing. Every encounter appears to make clear her personal origins and path ahead.
The album builds on the conviction of her debut, Athena, which bolstered her signature sound with heftier singing and breezy rapping. The quilt of that globetrotting file, which pictured Sudan Archives and her violin as a Greek statue, captures the whimsy, audacity and confidence of her musical imaginative and prescient. Born Brittney Parks and nicknamed Sudan as a baby, the artist is a Black Midwesterner with no direct ties to Sudan, South Sudan, or Greece. She picked up the violin when an opportunity efficiency by Canadian fiddlers at her Ohio elementary faculty sparked an obsession. She discovered to play by ear in varied ensembles — one thing she references on the Pure Brown Promenade Queen interlude “Do Your Factor (Refreshing Springs)” — and later got interested within the precise sounds of Sudan, which coincidentally has a tradition of ceremonial and experimental violin music. She adopted her stage title after this tacit connection implored her to peruse the broader archive of African people music. Extra hyperlinks adopted — a lot of them hyperlinks on YouTube — as she explored and embraced the string traditions of Estonia, Ghana, and Russia. All this cultural gallivanting guidelines out any notion of “authenticity,” a fraught time period that, within the title of correctly attributing sounds and kinds to their sources, typically conflates origination with originality and inspiration with extraction.
Pure Brown Promenade Queen has little curiosity in proving Parks’ legitimacy and is extra pushed by her intense curiosity. The acts of borrowing and interpolating are brazenly embedded within the music. On the nearer, “513,” she warps the hook of LL Cool J’s “Going Again to Cali” right into a homegoing reprise. Opener “Dwelling Maker” is an ode to private area that begins with a quicksilver suite that sparkles between snatches of synth, trumpet, keys, harp, and a breakbeat earlier than settling right into a pulsing R&B association. “I am a homemaker,” Sudan Archives sings on the hook, celebrating her domicile and the numerous parts that comprise it. Her house is a waypoint quite than an enclosure, the area and its builder altering as folks and concepts drift via.
That enthusiasm for each affect and confluence flavors the swaggering and saucy album, which finds the singer mulling relationships, her physique and her needs over compositions that shimmer with textures and overtones. The songs, which regularly have a number of producers, virtually glow with life, continually altering route and form. “Ciara” wryly makes use of sun-soaked melodies to toast to a roughneck relative (“I acquired a cousin in Chicago / Who will smack you in your face”) then empties right into a sludgy bridge that shifts but once more right into a gale of chill funk. The dewy vocals and manufacturing on gradual jam “ChevyS10” liquefy, sublimate and freeze like water altering states. Noise rap and hyperpop typically use volatility to disorient and dissociate, however as Sudan jaunts from Miami bass on “Freakalizer” to Irish jigs on “TDLY (Homegrown Land)” she sounds extra grounded and clear-headed.
“Egocentric Soul” melds choral harmonies, violin riffs and pounding drums right into a folksy rap observe, the busyness of the beat matching Sudan’s fraught tales of styling her hair. The theme recollects different issues of Black hair by girls in soul music — India.Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair” and Solange’s “Do not Contact My Hair” — however Sudan’s tackle the topic emphasizes working for self-acceptance quite than deflecting exterior gazes, subtly underscoring that particular person autonomy is on the root of such songs at the same time as they point out experiences relatable to any Black girl. “Copycat” approaches the topic in a different way, Sudan playfully addressing biters. Calling out plagiarists is commonplace rap stuff, however the track doubles as a metacommentary on the unappreciated omni-influence of Black girls, Sudan asking how she will be each despised and Xeroxed. It is a worthwhile query. In a world with a lot erasure of Black girls’s contributions, what can authenticity even appear like for them?
Management comes up typically on Pure Brown Promenade Queen. On the title observe, she alludes to her time in N2, a defunct teen-pop duo along with her twin sister. She’s stated that rebelling towards the route of the group, which was put collectively by her late stepdad, resulted in her getting kicked out the home. Due to this historical past, the polyvalent music she makes as Sudan Archives is commonly learn as antipop. However right here she makes it clear that she rejected her lack of authority quite than the music she made. “I simply wish to have my t*****s out / T*****s out / T*****s out,” she chants within the outro, once more linking artistic and bodily autonomy. Her music is much less a rejection of pop and extra an embrace of her uninhibited self. (Plus, her pop instincts are on full show within the composition of those and previous songs. She may be very able to writing earworms and being an ethnomusicological nerd on the similar rattling time.)
When she’s not explicitly speaking about authority, she’s exuding it in her cocksure rapping and singing, which anchors all of the album’s movement. She gushes with concepts and approaches to those bustling preparations, hopscotching throughout drum patterns (“Yellow Brick Street”), bouncing off of basslines (“Copycat”) and gliding over melodies (“Homesick”). Her violin seems on over half the songs, nevertheless it’s much less of a focal instrument, underscoring the rising sense that she is the lead. Her widening net of influences and collaborators (most notably multi-instrumentalist Ben Dickey, who’s credited on almost each track) affirms that she is the conductor via which all these currents stream.
It is becoming, then, that her journeys lead her again to Cincinnati on “#513.” “Hollywood will make you hole / I am too rooted in my methods,” she sings defiantly, setting the track up as a prodigal return. However the tinny track isn’t an ode to the rustbelt metropolis or a homecoming within the typical sense of the phrase. Sudan Archives does not head residence to settle previous scores, reminisce on higher days, or restore herself. She goes just because, in that second, that is the place she desires to be. That caprice captures the itinerant spirit of her music and the album’s arch sense of residence. On the planet of Sudan Archives, house is anyplace, anybody, and any sound that pushes you ahead.
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