Magazine article New Internationalist

Congotronics

Magazine article New Internationalist

Congotronics

Article excerpt

Congotronics

by Konono No 1

(Crammed CRA W 27 CD)

Once the likembé was, like its mbira cousin, a thumb piano producing a bluntish sound which in the hands of a virtuoso was a versatile instrument. Mawangu Mingiedi, founder of Konono No 1, was such a musician. But, on moving to Kinshasa, he soon realized that his likembe needed a little more oomph if it were to cut through the urban noise. Which is how Konono came to make a heap of resonators and speakers out of old cars, microphones and much else besides. Oh, and a percussion section of pots and pans, too.

But behind this technical inventiveness, there's a music that, in its mix of old and new, is vibrant and (stand close to the speakers) vibrating. Its roughshod electrification literally hums. Congotronics is, bar the megaphone-equipped lance-voix ('voice-throwers'), mostly an instrumental affair. …

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