It hasn’t been since Korn’s The Path Of Totality in 2011 that a predominantly rock-facing group/band has tackled dance music crossover and come out so brilliantly on the other side, but Tom Morello has just done it. The Atlas Underground is a blistering 12-track album featuring more names that we can comprehend; but, we can certainly list them.
In order of appearance:
Knife Party, Bassnectar, Big Boi, Killer Mike, Portugal. The Man, Whethan, Vic Mensa, Marcus Mumford, Josh Carter of Phantogram, Steve Aoki, Tim McIlrath, K.Flay, Pretty Lights, Carl Restivo, Gary Clark Jr., Nico Stadi, Leikeli47, GZA, RZA, and Herobust.
This seemingly random collection of artists are featured in a variety of combinations, some joining Morello on their own and others pairing up in ways we would have never thought (Bassnectar, Big Boi and Killer Mike is the obvious example that comes to mind). Very much due to the album’s diversity, it also suffers from being rather disjointed sonically. However, thematically, the album is tinged with political commentary and interpretations of current events that have affected our nation in recent years. (Again, the Bassnectar, Big Boi and Killer Mike collaboration “Rabbit’s Revenge” is most salient.)
For dance music fans, the tracks with known producers will likely be the most enjoyable. But even the tracks with just Vic Mensa or Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons should possess some crossover appeal.
Bringing the comparison back to Korn’s The Path of Totality, the type of artists chosen for features is clearly different. Korn went primarily for bass acts like Skrillex, Kill The Noise, Noisia, 12th Planet & Flinch, etc., whereas Morello went for a wider range of hip hop, rock, and dance collaborators like Bassnectar, Pretty Lights, Whethan and Herobust. While both albums will undoubtedly be brought up in the same sentence for years to come, it’s ultimately pointless to attempt to compare the two.
Morello has been taking The Atlas Underground on tour for a couple weeks now, accompanied by live performance and the chance to share a drink with Tom as he tells behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the record. There are still a few dates left; visit www.tommorello.com for a full list of event dates.
Listen to The Atlas Underground below.