Konono N°1: Rough and honest in-your-face grooves from Kinshasa.
Konono N°1’s Congotronics album introduced the world to the strange and spectacular electro-traditional mixtures which are being concocted in the suburbs of Kinshasa, Congo. World music, electronica and avant-rock aficionados have all been equally amazed by this otherworldly music, which has driven the international press to come up with some surprising comparisons (from Can and Krautrock to Jimi Hendrix, Lee Perry and proto-techno!…).
The band was founded back in the 1960s by Mingiedi Mawangu, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called sanza or thumb piano, consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). By experimenting with magnets salvaged from old car parts, Mingiedi invented and gradually improved his own electrified likembé, which he plugged into a guitar amplifier. The band’s line-up includes two or three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), singers, dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones.
In 2011, Konono No.1 took part in the Congotronics vs Rockers project, a “superband” including ten Congolese and ten indie rock musicians (also including members of Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Kasai Allstars, Skeletons and Juana Molina), who collaborated to create a common repertoire and performed at 15 major festivals and venues in ten countries. Konono N°1 have performed at major rock & electronic music festivals such as Coachella, ATP (at the invitation of the Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening), Sonar, The Big Chill, and in venues such as the Berghrain club in Berlin, Cafe Oto in London, where they recently recorded a memorable Boiler Room session.
The release of their latest album Konono N°1 meets Batida in 2016, is the result of a collaboration of the band with the Angolan/Portuguese artist Batida.