Spin #5 : Sudan Archives : Athena
Updated: Jul 23, 2022
Band Members on record :
Brittney Parks (Sudan Archives - Vocals and Violin), Collin Davis (Bass, Guitar and Drums), Cliona Ni Choileain (Cello), Brian Hargroves (Keys), Will Archer (Keys, Synths), Paul White, John Debold and Kenny Gilmore
Sudan Archives : Athena
Year Released : 2019
Produced by Sudan Archives and James R. McCall IV
Label: Stones Throw Records
Price Range: $45 - 55AUD
Speed: 33 1/3RPM
Album Before : N/A
Album After : No follow up to her Debut album at time of writing
Further Listening: Moses Sumney - Aromanticism (2017)
LP : 180 Gram, Black vinyl
Mood for enjoying: Athena is a great record to put on whilst its raining outside or your in the mood for easy listening with a twist. It has the haunting vocals over classical/pop/rnb syle music and listening in front of a fire place would be suited. A record to help self-reflection.
Did You Know - 3:14
Confessions - 2:53
Black Vivaldi Sonata - 2:50
Down On Me - 4:10
Ballet of the Unhatched Twins I - 0:41
Green Eyes - 3:41
Iceland Moss - 3:30
Coming Up - 3:41
House of Open Tuning II - 0:38
Glorious - 2:27
Stuck - 1:08
Limitless - 2:55
Honey - 3:02
Pelicans in the Summer - 3:38
What's in the Sleeve?
The record comes with a small insert with song information and acknowledgements, record sleeve with artwork on both sides and sheet music for 'Black Vivaldi Sonata'. Overall the artwork and photography is very well thought out and they've put together a well packaged product for Sudan Archives debut record.
"I took a piece of you home, 'Cause I need something to hold. This guilty pleasure's unfolding, How I want to taste your fear" ~ Down On Me - Side A
Welcome to Spin #5 - Sudan Archives : Athena
I chose this record for our #5 spin because its a record that I instantly got into upon first listen and was excited to review. I'm trying to select records that are of different genres and this week found myself wanting classical mixed with rnb sound. Perfectly fitting this choice is Sudan Archives debut record, Athena. Plus the artwork when placed up on the shelf just looked awesome in our room.
For the review I used the set up in our loungeroom consisting of our Sherwood Turntable (PM-9805) and Sherwood Receiver (RX-4508). The range across the 4 x Sherwood bookshelf speakers will be what made me choose this set up for the Spin. Also, its pouring outside and the rain hitting the roof would drown out the setup outside. Our daughter is crawling around in the loungeroom for the first time and is all rugged up in her little cardigan. I think she enjoys our Spin time just as much as we do, as she has a knack for waking up at the right time.
Drop the Needle (of course means place the stylus nicely on your wax):
I am wearing my Ghost hoody as I listen to this record and there is no problem with that. It shows just how varied our taste in music is and that listening to music in general has healing capabilities. Whatever music you're into, don't let others influence you negatively otherwise you will miss out on a lot of good stuff out there. I came across this record by browsing Spotify one day and by chance heard a song from this album. I then purchase the record and gave it a listen as the mix of violin/cello and RnB really worked.
Brittney Parks, better known as Sudan Archives kicks off the album with 'Did You Know'. It builds and builds with Parks singing reflectively about losing her mind and the dreams she had as a little girl being crushed, "Did you know, life isn't perfect". It has good flow and beats and a ethereal sound as she is drawing us, as the listeners, into her world. You feel like you're falling into the song and coming along for the journey. The song fades out to the string picking and leads into the intro of song two, 'Confessions'.
'Confessions' starts off very centrally on our system and builds across the 4 x bookshelf speakers before stopping and changing to the beat and flow of the song. It has so much going on musically that even if this song didn't have vocals, it would still be enjoyable to listen to. The chorus drops the drums and the violin as Parks sings "There is a place that I call home, But it's not where I am welcome. And if I saw all the angels, Why is my presence so painful?". Parks is asking a lot of questions on this record already and I'm enjoying the songs, very easy to digest. Its darker lyrically but at the same time still feeling upbeat. The use of violin on this song soothing and helps build the mellow mood.
Song three on Side A, 'Black Vivaldi Sonata' is the song that has the sheet music provided with the record (which I have not seen included with a record before). It's more dark and more RnB with loop tracks and Parks' voice is spookily stretched through each of the 4 x bookshelf speakers like a pulse in sync with the beat. This song isn't the hit single from this record but it is meant to be played loud due to the bass and use of drum machine. I like towards the end of the song when the guitar picking and beat on loop play off each other until the fade out.
This leads into song number four on Side A, 'Down On Me' which is very smooth on the ears. Parks sings "Wake Up with you next to me, Wondering how this came to be. I thought to be fair baby, You want to impress with me". It reminds me of a song but I can't put my finger on it just now but very relaxing. This for me is a stand out track, especially when it lifts to the chorus. The violin on this song alone is impressive and made me want to hear more classical x RnB records. The sound on this song at a moderate level is really crisp and the layers upon each song only come more to life as you turn the volume up. That's the thing with records - there are always little nuances that make it the premier music listening experience.
The next piece of music is an interlude called 'Ballet of the Unhatched Twins'. Its a way for the artists to show their talents and if I wasn't tracking the song list, I may have thought this was just the end of 'Down On Me' and beginning of 'Green Eyes'. It has a cool matrix sound at the end of the interlude that came through the speakers really well. The more I listen to Sudan Archives : Athena, it makes me want to see her perform at the Opera House or a outdoor auditorium. Let me know if you feel the same after a few listens.
The slow, repeated picking and use of looping brings us into 'Green Eyes'. More RnB sounding on this track and less classical but reminded me of a few songs from the 90's all merged together (in the best sounding way). Maybe the instrumentals could have been used on a Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre collaboration. Fans of 90's rap might agree or disagree but it leads into the last song on Side A, 'Iceland Moss' - for me is another clear winner.
It just has a different feel instantly and the catchy lyrics are easy for the listener to bop along too. If our son was awake at the time of the review he would have been putting his thumb up and laughing as he dances. Since the first Spin (Black Sabbath : 13) and now - he has grown up so fast. I love reviewing the records and also including little stories as a time capsule for our children. I hope one day they can go through the collection and read along to this blog and say - 'Oh Dad!'.
Our daughter is just taking her first crawling movements as I type this.
I got side tracked there. Ok, so as 'Iceland Moss' plays it just got me thinking about the things that are important in our life.
Time to lift the stylus and flip the record over to Side B to start the song, 'Coming Up'. A male is leaving a voicemail that has been changed and all echo affected before leading into the song. Its obviously a very personal moment on a very personal record. You can hear it in the songs that Parks has thrown a lot of energy and love into her craft. Still impressed with the range across the loungeroom and if you see the pictures below you will be able to visualise the set up and listening experience better. 'Coming Up' ends just as it begins - a male finishing the voice message. Next, 'House of Open Tuning II' is another interlude that is short and sweet and lifts the spirts between the sad 'Coming Up' and the upbeat high tempo, ' Glorious'.
The next song, 'Glorious' is a hit. I heard this song before I purchased the record and like it. It doesn't try too hard and layers the instruments well before guest rapper, D-Eight takes control. I found myself bopping my head along to this song. I'm not sure if this was the number one single from the album but the catchy beat and length of song feel about right.
I think ' Stuck' on Side B is my favourite interlude. The smooth bass, that stop start use of drum machine (even though I'd much prefer real drums). It is a nice moment on the record because if you took away the drum machine then you'd have a pretty harrowing sound that just ends with Parks singing "Now you're Stuck". Once again, If I wasn't following closely along with the song list I might have thought this was the intro into the next song, 'Limitless'.
'Limitless' lifts the mood up lyrically and the music seems to have taken a back seat. The vocals are really clear until the beat drops around the 40 second mark. A lyric I liked on this song and is - "It's ok to be afraid, Feeling stuck, unlucky, okay. You're the only great escape, Gotta let you make the mistakes". The song drifts off quickly and you hear the singing of ....honey....honey.
'Honey' sounds like a song that just flows with the album without being a standout or filler. It's nice and anything with a nice bass line is always welcome. Just a song that helps drift away bad thoughts and calms nerves. She is warning all about someone who has treated her wrong in the past and we all have those people in our lives that have help shape us, whether good or bad. Without that person in her life she may not have been able to produce such a focused record. It has a 70's driving down the street in a convertible outro.
This brings us to the last song on the album, 'Pelicans In The Summer'. This song has an airy sound before it hits the chorus. Then the vocals come into focus across the speakers. Then changes back a to muffled style sound that just works well with the song. I think the tracks that Parks focuses on violin are solid and this feels like she is building for the end of this record and beginning of potential follow up.
It ends and I find myself wanting to spin this one again. I lift the stylus and look across at my wife who is enjoying the time together, drawing and not thinking about anything troubling. This album has that charm about it where it is able to make you calm and inspired at the same time, even for a small while. This album has lots of re-play value and so glad I came across it. I really hope there is a follow up album soon as I will be adding it to the collection without any doubts.
I hope you enjoyed listening along or just reading through our Spin with us. Don't forget to give this record a listen if you didn't get a chance yet and definitely recommend you add it to your collection. You can find small snippets on the Spotify link at the top of the page to give you a taste of this album. Give us a like on our social pages and check out the cups on our merch tab if you love a cuppa while taking some much deserved R'nR time.
Until our next Spin, Be Kind to your Significant Other and Be Kind to your Wax!