Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Konono No. 1

Last year, I wrote the following review. I'm posting it here because next week I'll post a long version of an interview with Congotronics series producer Vincent Kenis. Also, this should remind any of the three people that read this blog that they should run, not walk, to get tickets to see Konono No. 1.
Konono no. 1

I'm a big fan of loud music. When I say loud I mean King-Tubby-overclocking-amplifiers loud. Any piece of music, any sound, from banjo to bass beat, takes on a whole new life when it is cranked up at top volume. Sound, sound and more sound. Konono no. 1, a group from an area of Africa between Angola and the Congo seem to understand this very well.

Mingiedi, who founded the group 25 years ago, is a likembe (thumb piano) virtuoso of the highest order. Konono no. 1 make use of three likembes, a rhythm section, three singers, and three dancers. The sound is pumped through makeshift amplifiers and speakers that have been carefully culled together from old car parts. Bits and pieces of cars drive (pardon the pun) the rhythm section with hubcaps and other scraps of metal--including old pots and pans--acting as cymbals, drums, and other assorted noisemakers. Needless to say, you probably haven't heard anything else like this. Ever.

Whistles and song collide with dizzying, crashing rhythms, creating music that is nothing short of amazing. It's essentially super-charged traditional Bazombo trance music, but it sounds like something you wouldn't be surprised to hear paired with a touch of M.I.A.'s "Galang Galang". I don't mean to suggest that this is pop in any way, shape or form, but it's serious, bass heavy dance music, with a punky, rockus edge. Some have compared it to Autechre, some have drawn comparisons to Diamanda Galas. Whatever it is, these guys have been at it for years and they certainly know how to move a crowd.

I, for one, am excited to know that Crammed disc's Congotronics series doesn't begin and end with this record. There's more where this came from. So throw it on the CD, crank up the bass, and don't worry about the neighbours.

1 comment:

Chris - Dreaming of Babylon said...

Sounds amazing. I'm going to try to pick it up. Is it hard to find?