Sink EP by Sudan Archives – Review
Review by Spencer Smith
RIYL: SZA, Shabazz Palaces, Jlin
Sudan Archives is an LA-based solo R&B project on famed experimental hip-hop imprint Stones Throw Records; famous for the work of abstract hip-hop producers like Madlib and Knxwledge. The label also distributes the releases of Leaving Records, home to some wild, beep-boop stuff like Kemialliset Ystävät or Ras G. Sink splits the difference between these hip-hop-leaning and the abstract, world-influenced offerings, creating a brand of R&B unlike anything I have heard. Taking cues from footwork-style electronic music alongside layered African percussive landscapes, Sudan Archives is a truly unique project that is informed in its instrumentation and vulnerable in its songwriting.
This release is evolved from the project’s self-titled debut, substituting some of the acoustic moments of her debut for more synthesized sounds. The addition of trappy hi-hats and rich keyboards gives a more nighttime and poppy feel to the first two tracks of the EP, however in my opinion the unique fiddle-playing is missed. These tracks also strip away the raw, polyrhythmic percussive treatments I enjoyed a lot on Sudan Archives; however, these lovely acoustic elements find their way back as the release progresses, this time paired with the synths and reverb that seem to be this release’s mission statement.
In the almost Grace Jones-esque cover photo, Sudan Archives stands in stark contrast to the booming teal backdrop of Sink, a beautiful statement of her brave, forward-thinking musical explorations, making her easy to single out among a seemingly infinite sea of uninspired pop vocalists in 2018. Her increasing forays into electronic textures have me beyond excited for future Sudan Archives projects, but this EP got started a little too slowly, which is hard to forget about at only 18 minutes in length.
You can tune in to hear Spencer host “Out There” from 6 to 7 PM Thursdays this summer on WPTS radio. This review was edited by Sam Taylor of the WPTS editorial board.