Wednesday, 29 November 2006

If turning something old into something new is what’s going on in music right now, then Toronto’s k-os is the man. His third record since 2003, and first for new label Virgin, clearly puts him as one of the most creative and talented musicians and producers in the game right now. The first track off 2007’s Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, “Electrik Heat – The Seekwill,” is yet another take on the “Funky Drummer” break, but there’s homage and a fresh spin all rolled into one serious jam. He’s not trying to fool anyone here—it’s a clear beat-bio of his life as a rising star and how he’s dealing with it personally. That sentiment continues in the following track, “The Rain,” which sounds like a song David Ruffin would write if he was in his prime today. It’s a Motown string-soaked lamentation, oozing with the soul you just don’t think exists today—unadulterated.

The album continues to pay tribute to some of the most classic sounds that have ever graced the airwaves. From the bebop grooves of “Flypaper” to the rock ‘n’ roller “Born to Run,” k-os has his roots in “roots.” Sometimes artists try to bite off more they can chew by covering their bases perhaps too heavily, but the sincerity and quality of this record makes you want more. He’ll take a snippet of genre, chew it up and spit it out and make it his own creation. The album is a mover and a shaker, but there’s deep emotion in every song, where even Prince might not have a choice but to cover “Highway 7” while he’s playing in Vegas at his new club. It’s just him and a guitar singing one of the prettiest ballads you’re gonna here for while. “I am trying to be unapologetic about the rules I break,” k-os states on his website. “Most revolutionary art ends up provoking classic ideals and it is these same classic ideals that become prisons if they go unchallenged.” And with Atlantis: Hymns for Disco, k-os is challenging his heroes: Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix. He wears his influences on his sleeve and we should all be grateful for it.

Atlantis: Hymns for Disco is out now (U.S. release is February 2007)

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