Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Sudan Archives – Glorious

We’re taking US Thanksgiving off, but here’s an early holiday gift for the sidebar…


[Video]
[7.44]

Kylo Nocom: Brittney Parks’ stage name, Sudan Archives, suggests ethnomusicological compilations and, in turn, the complications of consuming folk music without entertaining the imperial gaze. Her musical trajectory appears to be a conscious transition away from her earlier projects’ pan-African aesthetic, relying less upon the abstract othering of world music and instead indulging in a more fine-tuned otherworldliness. What remains is the tension of alienation. On “Glorious,” Parks artfully relays her familial economic anxieties, spitting out each syllable over hypnotic gurgles that sound like an Afrodisiac cut sampling “Jig of Life,” and the toil of her work is audible in the panting of “feels so close yet so far away.” A quick verse by Cincinnati rapper D-Eight proves a necessary disturbance: first, to dislodge any notion that Parks is “a strange alien from Africa” and to provide a sincere celebration of her hometown roots; second, to provide an unexpected, more conventional lyrical contrast to Parks’ work-song verses; third, to be a really badass Fatman Scoop-type hypeman once “Glorious” veers off into freewheeling glee. Accessibility may have sacrificed some of the interestingly arcane aspects of Parks’ music, but “Glorious” shows how pop structure can be used for more complex and yet more human ends.
[8]

Ian Mathers: A swirling, heady combination of slinky R&B, traditional Sudanese songs praying for good fortune, and what the singer/violinist herself calls “literally some Irish jig shit.” But “Glorious” works so phenomenally well that it doesn’t feel at all like a hybrid, especially on the dark grind of the chorus.
[8]

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: The clear predominance of North African sonic sensibilities and musical phrasings in the song’s fiddle melody is a brilliant way to represent the overarching concept in Sudan Archives’ Athena — the influence of African and Egyptian cultures on the imagery and expression of Greek, and, by extension, all Western mythologies. But D-Eight’s guest verse, while it’s technically efficient and establishes the ancient-modern element, undersells the track’s purpose. It works as a piece of Afrofuturist R&B, not so much as an introductory single.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: The exact sort of R&B/traditional fusion that seemingly everyone in 2003 was attempting a half-assed, appropriative version of, not knowing the ceiling for it was this high. Between this, Kelsey Lu, and other artists I’m sure I’m forgetting, I can’t wait for alt-R&B to get expansive and sumptuous, rather than minimalist and chill.
[9]

Tim de Reuse: A sparse, breathy collection of sounds loosely clustered around the beat; as elements of a whole, they only make sense right near the end, when everything clicks together under a ticklish shaker loop. Until then, there just aren’t enough opportunities for things to bounce off each other.
[6]

Alfred Soto: The beat’s steady clip-clop and the rush of the rap and violin melody create an aural tension: not quite glorious, but excellent enough.
[7]

Julian Axelrod: Sudan Archives is an astounding talent, so it’s no surprise she can blend Irish jigs and traditional Ghanaian hymns into a beat that actually knocks. I hope this becomes a hit so she can afford to work with rappers who don’t sound like her next door neighbor’s nephew.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: Mixing a violin — Parks’ playing is rooted in Sudanese fiddle music — with contemporary R&B is on some next-level shit, and “Glorious” is just one example, dragged down a bit by an unnecessary guest rap. But you can hear how she thinks about sound differently than most in R&B these days.
[7]

Michael Hong: “Glorious” showcases Brittney Parks’ violin as the vibrant heart of her music. Listening to her violin dance the jig as gracefully as it does is hypnotic, drawing focus away from everything else: the programmed drums, the guest verse, and Parks herself. The violin is spry enough to bounce across her murmured hymn, yet sharp enough to pierce the blown-out instrumental and present itself in the foreground. Any other string instrument would weigh the piece down, but her violin dances with elegance and grace. It loops in mesmerizing circle, then switches to a lethal strike at a moment’s notice. On D-Eight’s guest verse, it slices through like a warning, and he’s wise enough to take heed, cutting himself short before the violin slashes back into focus: a statement that Parks will not be upstaged. “Focus on the bottom line,” she sings, but if you’re listening to her voice instead of her instrument, you’re not really paying attention.
[9]

Reader average: [8] (2 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

One Response to “Sudan Archives – Glorious”

  1. After spending an entire day reading up on the critical theory of Afro-Pessimism, on how the laws of America are inherently racist and how the foundation of society perpetuates gratuitous violence against black bodies, it’s easy to see why Ellison’s Invisible Man spent the rest of his life underground and why people become disillusioned with this world. But Sudan Archives’ “Glorious” is the antithesis to that, a “fuck you” to an unforgiving system by the simple means of hope. “Hit the max on my card today/ Pay it back, as soon as I can pay” is a line that, at first glance, seems to be thrown away in its nonchalance, but it is also a subtle exhibition of confidence, of not giving up despite how dark the world can seem — the racism, the unemployment (pre-“Papa got a new job today”), the debt. Each small victory in the lyrics, each repetition of the chorus’ mantra to “focus on the bottom line/ so you never fall behind,” is the perfect screenplay for a bass line that seems to stride tall through the city, never losing focus on the true destination: the “Glorious” feeling of success.

Leave a Reply