“I’m feeling freaky,” proclaims Brittney Denise Parks, shortly after treating an amped-up Glasgow audience to her bootylicious track ‘Freakalizer’, with its weirdo loops and her curt bowing strokes on the violin. Welcome to the world of Sudan Archives, a performer who never quite seems to manifest in the same way twice. Right now, she appears to be going through a blonde Flashdance phase in white high-cut swimsuit and armwarmers, with the striking embellishment of long swishing peroxide dreadlocks.
Her music is similarly mercurial but pushes the right buttons at regular intervals with pop chants, irresistible hip-hop beats – the latter generally triggered by her multi-instrumentalist wingman Byron Crenshaw – and the special sauce that is her violin. As Lizzo is to flute, so Parks is to violin, having adopted the instrument at school and developed her own hybrid style without formal tuition.
However, she knows she’s on to a sure thing, delivering a burst of an Irish jig to a Scottish audience and unleashing the party. This was the first piece she ever learned on violin, a fortuitious culture clash which led her to investigate other global traditions, particularly Sudanese one-string players, and feed the results through her own wiggy effects.
‘Nont For Sale’, one of the older tracks in her set, is an impressive introduction to her confident hybrid style, blending pizzicato strings, an easy low’slung rhythm and a soulful Celtic air as if they were destined to meet in song.
Her musical inventiveness is only half the story – Parks is a charismatic performer and soulful singer, though she does lean heavily on autotune as part of her ritual distortion of her ingredients. There’s a degree of untouchability in her stage presence but when she sings the affirming chant that “I’m not average” on ‘Natural Brown Prom Queen’ (the title track of her current, excellent album), she is speaking the language of her fellow freaks.