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k-os, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco

After winning three Juno Awards for his hugely successful sophomore release, Joyful Rebellion, where could k-os go next? Well, on Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, k-os mashes up every possible genre of music — mixing poppier beats, ingenious guitar licks, electro, and brass band and string sections with his own smooth flow — making Atlantis sound like the new funk.

Right off the bat, Atlantis is reminiscent of Buck 65’s Secret House Against the World. Both rappers are defining a new sound for hip-hop, using guitars to advance their popularity with rock audiences. And while the album is initially hard to get into because of all the genre-jumping, once you give Atlantis the proper attention (especially on a pair of good headphones), you won’t be able to put it away.

“The Rain” is by far k-os’s greatest accomplishment and completely blows Joyful Rebellion’s “Man I Used to Be” out of the water. The track is underscored by some unique mixing techniques, “Rain” sounds as if k-os’s soaring vocals are battling the soulful string section. You’ll no doubt be hearing more from this track in the New Year, because I can’t imagine his label not releasing it as a single.

Other Atlantis highlights include the poppy first single “Sunday Morning,” featuring a blistering drumbeat courtesy of Death From Above 1979’s Sebastien Grainger. “Valhalla” sounds like an electric country hoedown featuring Sam Roberts and Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) on background vocals. Finally, the be-bop-and-folk-inspired “Ballad of Noah” showcases two of my favourite Canadian rappers: Kamau and Buck 65. Both don’t disappoint with some of the CD’s most inspiring raps.

While Atlantis is always outrageous and fun, it seems the main problem with the album is how k-os takes a backseat lyrically. He has stated in interviews that this Atlantis is his most personal disc to date, but besides his heart broken tales on “Rain” and “Highway 7” many of the tracks just come off as sound bites. But that’s just a small complaint on an otherwise epic album. (Virgin Records)

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