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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Konono NO. 1

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published February 19, 2008

Live At Couleur Cafe
Crammed Discs

Now a septuagenarian, Mawangu “Papa” Mingiedi formed Konono No. 1 nearly 30 years ago, but the12-member group from Kinshasa achieved widespread recognition and critical acclaim, including a BBC Award, for its 2005 debut Congotronics the buzz even earned the group a supporting slot on Björk’s most recent tour. The collective grew out of the political chaos in their native Republic Of The Congo, and those roots are evident on this live album, recorded at a festival in Belgium. With a distorted electrotraditional sound that comes from three electric and multi-pitched likembé (thumb pianos) equipped with hand-made microphones, the group’s gritty intensity gets a boost from a chorus of singers and a polyrhythmic troupe of makeshift percussion that includes pots, pans and hubcaps. Presupposing the primal DIY garage band ethic, with an otherworldly and cacophonous sound in the Bazombo trance/dance tradition, Konono No. 1 was years ahead of its time with this dizzying music, and it still is today.