Hailing from The Democratic Republic of The Congo, Konono No.1 marks FatCat’s first release of an artist from the African continent. Rooted in a very social form of folk music making, the group are one of the main exponents of a spectacular style of music which has developed in the suburbs of the capital city of Kinshasa. The Congolese refer to this style as “tradi-modern”, meaning electrified traditional music. These are musicians who have left the bush to settle in the capital and, in order to both continue fulfilling their social role and make themselves heard above the urban din, they have resorted to DIY amplification of their instruments, and the use of megaphones. This makeshift electrification provoked a radical mutation of their sound, introducing distortions that they have then integrated into their style.
Konono No.1 was founded over 25 years ago by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (a traditional instrument sometimes called “sanza” or “thumb piano”, consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). The band’s line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. The rhythm section uses both traditional and makeshift percussion (pans, pots, car parts), 3 singers, 3 dancers and a sound system. The musicians come from an area which sits right across the border between Congo and Angola. Whilst their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music, the incorporation of originally-unwanted distortions arising through their sound system has led to them developing a unique style which has accidentally connected them with the aesthetics of the most experimental forms of rock and electronic music, as much through their sounds as through their sheer volume (they play in front of a wall of speakers) and merciless grooves.
The two tracks on our split 12” release were kindly licensed to us by the Crammed Discs label, who released the Konono No1 album, ‘Congotronics’ in February 2005. Since releasing a number of other albums on Crammed Discs.