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K-os - Atlantis: Hymns For Disco

K-os, Atlantis: Hymns For Disco

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

BY HIS own admission, K-os makes music for himself, first and foremost. Hence, third album Atlantis – Hymns for Disco is a diverse collection of songs that cross many musical styles, sounds and generations. It’s a very personal journey that draws on a lot of influences but – crucially – it’s an absolute pleasure to hear.

The inspiration for the album began when he first started writing the first song, Sunday Morning, a track that brought him back to the lifestyle and values he learned during his fundamentalist upbringing.

“If Saturday night was party night, Sunday morning was family time in my house,” he explains. “From the morning activities to the dinner served. It’s funny, I left all that behind to see what the world was like on my own terms. Everything then was go-go-go! I felt so ambitious with so much to accomplish, only to now understand the sacredness of resting and having time to contemplate and renew yourself.”

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that Sunday Morning emerges as one of the album highlights. It’s built around a thrilling mix of pop-rock and hip-hop that effortlessly encapsulates the feelgood vibe attached to so much of OutKast’s music – both vocally and instrumentally. It’s surely an anthem in waiting for the artist, destined to have fans singing along with it’s central chorus of “everyday is like Saturday night, but I can’t wait for Sunday morning”.

Elsewhere, there’s plenty to admire. Album opener Electrik Heat is an equally thrilling old-skool hip-hop workout that drops a kick-arse beat, some fine scratching and some excellent lyrical flow.

It’s followed by the classical soul of Rain, a genuinely classy performer built around piano chords and swirling strings that find K-os’s vocals at their most longing. It’s a sombre ballad delivered in classic style, recalling the heyday of Stevie Wonder.

Fly Paper ups the tempo to supremely satisfying effect, dropping finger-clicking beats and a funky bassline, as well as some smart vocal layering, while there’s a cheeky Jailhouse Rock nod to the drums and guitars of Equalizher. The tinkling pianos are also quite exhilarating, making it another track you can’t help but want to dance to!

Further tracks to look out for include the more straightforwardly pop-rockin’ Born To Run and another of the album’s many favourites, Valhalla, a hand-clap laden uplifter that finds K-os reuniting with past collaborators Sam Roberts and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. It’s the sort of offering that lifts you up, spins you around and sweeps you away with its infectious sense of hope.

Cat Diesel drops some fine blasts of brass and another funky beat, Highway 7 slows things down nicely with some smart acoustic guitar chords and some silky smooth vocals from K-os that recall one of the more melancholy moments on the album, and final track The Ballad of Noah rounds things off in supreme style by embracing a folksky, hip-hop vibe and stirring guest vocals from Buck 65 and Kamau. The chorus, in particular, is a belter, while the beat works like a treat in line with the folk guitar licks and occasional blasts of mouth organ.

K-os stands for ‘knowledge of self’ and on this new album, the artist has not only identified a path to ‘knowledge of self,’ but brings us on that never-ending journey

“We shouldn’t allow ourselves to get flooded by other’s opinions of us, but instead look within ourselves for foundation,” he adds. “I don’t want to walk around thinking I’m here to change people or the world. I’m not. I can only change myself. Cities can sink, but I believe that people can survive if they follow a map or a compass marked Knowledge of Self.”

It’s an admirable sentiment and one that’s well worth getting hold of Atlantis to embrace. It’s a musical form of feelgood therapy.

Download picks: Electrik Heat, Rain, Sunday Morning, Fly Paper, The Ballad of Noah, Cat Diesel, Valhalla, Equalizher.

Track listing:

  1. Electrik Heat – The Seekwill
  2. Rain
  3. Fly Paper
  4. Equalizher
  5. Sunday Morning
  6. Mirror in the Sky
  7. Born to Run
  8. Valhalla
  9. Cat Diesel
  10. Black Ice: Hymn 4 Disco
  11. Aqua City Boy
  12. Highway 7
  13. Ballad of Noah/Chocolate Chewing Gum
  14. Funky Country – k-os