Konono No.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 likembe, 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.
The musicians come from an area which sits right across the border between Congo and Angola. Their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music, but they’ve had to incorporate the originally-unwanted distorsions of their sound system. This has made them develop a unique style which, from a sonic viewpoint, has accidentally connected them with the aesthetics of the most experimental forms of rock and electronic music, as much through their sounds than through their sheer volume (they play in front of a wall of speakers) and their merciless grooves.
The first Konono N°1 recording to come out outside of the Congo was a track included in the Zaïre: Musiques Urbaines à Kinshasa compilation, recorded in 1978 by Bernard Treton for the Ocora label, and released during the ‘80s. This track struck the imagination of Belgian musician and producer Vincent Kenis, who set out to find the band during his numerous trips to the Congo. He finally located them in the early 2000s, and recorded their first album, entitled Congotronics, which came out in 2004 on Crammed Discs., and was the the inaugural release in Crammed’s Congotronics series, devoted to the exciting electro/traditional musical hybrids from the Congo.
This event is presented by Digital in Berlin. Check out our Facebook page to win tickets.
Sunday, 02.04.2017 | 19:00 CET
Festsaal Kreuzberg | Am Flutgraben 2 | 12435 Berlin