There is a depth to Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, the latest album from Toronto hip-hop artist k-os, that defies easy categorization. Few artists are able to mash together multiple genres with such ease; virtually every track on Atlantis is a mixture of disparate musical styles, yet the lyrical and sonic threads that run through the album give it a cohesive feel. The result is a piece of work that is both instantly likeable and richly rewarding after multiple spins.
This is the third album for k-os. 2002's Exit and 2004's Joyful Rebellion both won him critical acclaim and several industry awards in Canada and elsewhere. In between those projects, a k-os collaboration with The Chemical Brothers on "Get Yourself High" earned a Grammy nomination for "Best Dance Recording".
Since being released in Canada in October 2006, Atlantis: Hymns for Disco has been nominated for five 2007 Juno Awards: "Pop Album of the Year", "Single of the Year" ("Sunday Morning"), "Songwriter of the Year", "Jack Richardson Producer of the Year", and "Video of the Year".
Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is a soulful album with a lot of personality. k-os sings more than he raps on this album, demonstrating an admirable vocal range and a solid knack for melody. Live instruments, including drums, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, strings and horns lend a sense of immediacy to the music, while breakbeats, samples, scratching, and synthesized keyboard effects keep it rooted solidly in the hip-hop vein on most of the 14 tracks.
In addition to first single "Sunday Morning", there are several other standout tracks on Atlantis: Hymns for Disco. "ELEctrik HeaT - the seekwiLL" is classic hip-hop with k-os slinging rapid-fire rhymes over a Public Enemy-style drum groove and some excellent turntable work. On "The Rain", an authentic nod to old school R & B, k-os sings about lost love while a piano plunks out a simple 6/8 rhythm pattern accompanied by live drums, strings, and a guitar solo that brings the song to an emotional close.