Every now and then, I appreciate the opportunity to hear something new and out of my comfort zone. And so, with Natural Brown Prom Queen, I was formally introduced to Sudan Archives.
Brittney Parks, a.k.a Sudan Archives, is a self-taught, multi-instrumentalist and her music brings together styles from different cultures and genres. Natural Brown Prom Queen is her fourth record. Before this album came across my desk, I watched some videos of her performances online. I saw an NPR Tiny Desk Concert where she played with a string quartet. I saw some soft gentle performances, with her voice beautifully floating above the most minimal of instrumentation. And then came this new album, with its electronic beats, and bigger production.
Natural Brown Prom Queen has a lot going on. It’s an 18-track Double LP, and the songs fit and flow together in a cohesive package. And the musical shift from what I had come upon beforehand to this, was impressive. You’ve got to respect an artist doing artistic things.
In fact, the album is full of interesting artistic choices made by Sudan Archives, who composed and performed all its many layers and parts. Like the transition from “It’s Already Done” to “FLUE.” The former, a track with a thumping bassline, hip-hop beat, and an MC reciting some lyrics, slides into the soft string intro of the latter. The track “Loyal (EDD)” feels much for ambient and electronic. And then on “Yellow Brick Road,” the penultimate song on the album, Sudan Archives softly raps, while the rhythm of a bright piano plays, and birds chirp in the background.
It seems, as stated in one of the interstitial tracks on the album, that Sudan Archives will continue to do her thing. And out of that, I’m sure we’ll have many more opportunities to hear new and interesting music.