Sudan Archives breaks down "high" and "low culture" in pursuit of beauty and truth on "Glorious"!



There's an unfortunate tendency in Western culture to "honor" "unconventional" art forms by allowing them to enter the official institutions. Like jazz music at Carnegie Hall. Or Matthew Barney's experimental meditations on Scottish Freemasonry at the Guggenheim Museum with his Cremaster cycles. Or symphonic versions of David Bowie songs.

The symbol seems pretty clear. "We will now pay attention to you." By assimilation, of course.

Of course, these pinnacles of expression can be awe-inspiring in their own right. The thick, rich polyphony of orchestras and choruses, sometimes 100 members deep. Often accompanied by lavish stage productions. It's impressive, no doubt about it. It also pre-supposes that these bastions of "high culture," are still somehow the height of culture, which could certainly be argued in a time when things like opera and classical music and opera have been shunted off to the margins, at best. It often seems like Western culture's bid to stay relevant, in a world where it is increasingly less so.

Of course, a lot of what makes more "unconventional" artforms more palatable is they are more easily commodifiable. Look at some kinds of experimental music in the 21st Century, like noise music or non-Western musics. When you weld them to a classical format, or Pop, suddenly it's "legitimate." Suddenly, noise music is no longer 45 minute bursts of paranoia and aggression meted out from the margins of society. Instead, it's some hissy static on a Taylor Swift track.

Not every artform wants to be commodified. Not everything is made to be sold. There's more to life than the bottom line.

This dichotomy, this discrepancy, is the heart and soul of the most recent Sudan Archives, "Glorious." In which Sudan Archives proves she can play the game, and very very well at that, but she wishes she didn't have to.

The accompanying music video helps illustrate the point, with the L.A. based multi-instrumentalist and beat-maker playing her fiddle while languidly undulating like a snake-charming belly-dancer. As a Pop Star, Sudan Archives has it all - she can dance, sing, play multiple instruments. Her visual aesthetic is entirely on point. Basically, she's on the fast track to taking over. Yet she's doing it her own way, doing what she wants, delivering an important and heartfelt message.

Rapper D-Eight's guest vocals puts a fine point on the single's message.

"Just be glory in the name of the dollar
Just be holy in the name of the father
The white man ain’t tryin’ to pay me proper
I’m trying to get a ring for my baby momma
In a world for my daughter, my son, here for the flowers."

THIS is subversive. THIS is high art, with a conscience. And, most importantly, it sounds amazing! Sudan Archive's Sudanese-inspired fiddle playing is underscored with the futuristic beatmaking she's known for, that proves she's at the vanguard of futuristic electronic music alongside other future pop producers like Fatima Al Qadiri or Sampha.

"Glorious" is the most recent, and most likely, last single before her upcoming new album, Athena, which will be out on November 1 on Stones Throw Records.


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.