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Sudan Archives first emerged as an avant-garde violinist who channeled her playing through loop pedals. Then songwriter, vocal performer, and beat-maker. She's captivated audiences at festivals around the world, touring her trail-blazing EPs Sudan Archives (2017) and Sink (2018). Sudan's many identity coalesces in her debut album, Athena: a psychedelic, magnetic take on modern R&B.
Those EPs, Sudan says, were "like a haiku of what the album is". Athena is "more in your face, more confrontational – and that's also how I've grown as an artist. I used to be a hermit who would make beats in her bedroom, but now I'm working with other writers, producers and instrumentalists, I've learned how to communicate. It feels like I'm almost back in church." At first, it was tough for Sudan to cede any control in her creative process, but as she got stuck into the sessions with producers Wilma Archer (Jessie Ware, Nilufer Yanya), Washed Out, Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Sampha, King Krule), and Paul White (Danny Brown, Charli XCX), she opened up. The resulting album, whittled down to 12 taut tracks from around 60, is her most ambitious work yet.