“This is my first tour!” announced Sudan Archives as she stepped onto Swedish American Hall’s small, sophisticated stage on Monday. Dressed in a skin-tight, striped dress with large headphones and chunky silver jewelry, the artist exuded confidence and sensuality. “Can we turn the lights down?” the artist requested, giving the stage a more intimate atmosphere. Candles stacked on pedestals congregated around the artist, who stood checking her sound machines and tuning her small, sleek violin. An ethereal essence filled the venue, promising what would indeed be a magical night.
Sudan Archives, born Brittney Denise Parks, is an American violinist and singer based in Los Angeles. Parks writes, sings and produces her own songs, which are heavily grounded in North African folk violin and electronic beat production. Onstage, she organically recreated these beats, violin runs and melodies to produce unique moments of musical genius as part of this year’s Noise Pop Festival.
Opening with “Did You Know,” Sudan Archives foregrounded her willowy voice over a simple, atmospheric background. Effortlessly flowing between high and low notes, the artist expanded each syllable with crystal clarity, highlighting a message of hope and struggle. Departing from the track, Sudan Archives spoke powerful poetry about a personal experience, starting from the pivotal phrase “Did you know?” The artist leaned into her audience, sharing that “her skin might seem really amazing … did you know that I see through that?” seemingly referencing the woman her partner has left her for.
Delving into her beat-heavy records, Sudan Archives arrived at “Limitless,” a lighthearted merging of R&B vocals and electronic beats. Despite the simplistic, upbeat rhythm, the lyrics shined through as deeply meaningful. Gesturing to the audience, the artist pronounced, “Limitless at our fingertips/ Don’t sweat it just get it/ We’re too cool to admit it.”
Arriving at a clear crowd-favorite, Sudan Archives combined R&B vocals with deep, bassy beats for “Iceland Moss.” While simplistic in form, the song was well-recognized by fans. Singing along to “You think I’m soft/ Like Iceland moss,” the crowd’s voices joined the vocalist’s to create a collective consciousness — soft but powerful.
Transitioning into more violin-heavy pieces, Sudan Archives began to craft “Come Meh Way” from her self-titled EP. Plucking a simple melody on her instrument, she recorded this base tune before surprising the audience by tapping her bow against the violin’s body to create a deeper tone. Further gasps were elicited when the crowd recognized that the artist was tapping her violin’s base to the chains around her neck, creating a heavy, rattling beat. Content with the beats, Sudan Archives began to hypnotically sing the enchanting lyrics, “I just can’t escape/ I get blown away/ When you come meh way/ When you come meh way.”
Picking up her violin once again, she traded her voice for that of her instrument, letting the violin’s sensuous sound speak for itself. Gliding through a series of violin runs, Sudan Archives crafted a merry tune, full of power and beauty. Slowing down from this fast-paced note-playing, the violin seemed to sing the chorus along with her.
Finishing up the show, Sudan Archives revived “Nont for Sale” from her EP, Sink. Brimming with strength and self-empowerment, the artist infused explicit R&B swagger into her music. Departing from the lyrics, she proclaimed, “This is my life — don’t f— it up, motherf—–,” finishing with a powerful vocal run of “this is my land not for sale.”
Sudan Archives left the stage to the tune of momentous applause, and the magical atmosphere of violin strings, electronic beats and willowy vocals departed with her.
Highlights: “Limitless,” “Glorious,” “Come Meh Way,” “Pelicans in the Summer”