Konono No.1 release the first album from Crammed Disc's series Congotronics, which is devoted to electrified traditional music from the Congo.
Konono No.1 was founded over 25 years ago by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembe ("thumb piano"). The band's line-up includes three electric likembes, equipped with home-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts plus a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pots, pans and car parts), three singers, three dancers and an unusual PA system incorporating megaphones dating from the colonial period.
The members of Konono No.1 come from an area which straddles the border between Congo and Angola and their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music. They left the bush to settle in the capital and in order to continue to fulfil their social role and to make themselves heard over the high levels of urban noise by their ancestors (and, of course, their fellow citizens), had to resort to makeshift electrification of their instruments. This has provoked a radical mutation of their sound, and has accidentally connected them with the aesthetics of experimental rock and electronic music, as much through the sounds they use as through the sheer volume of their performances (they play in front of a wall of speakers) and their merciless grooves.
The Konono No.1 album and the Congotronics series in general is being recorded and produced by Vincent Kenis, who is a leading expert in Congolese music and who has produced albums by Zap Mama, Taraf de Haïdouks & Koçani Orkestar.
Personnel: Mawangu Mingiedi, Mawangu Makuntima (likembe), Bodika Kungu (bass likembe), Lulendo Arumba, Kanda Mateta (percussion), Nzimbu Kuavita (tam tam) and others