Download of the Week: Konono Nº1
Congotronics from 2004 is the official debut release from Konono Nº1 who use electric likembé, a version of the thumb piano, and other instruments made from salvaged scrap found in their native Kinshasa, Congo along with group vocals and plenty of percussive drive for an intoxicating over-driven sound. From the Crammed Discs website:
The band was founded back in the 1960s 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. There's also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a sound system featuring these famous megaphones.The sound of Konono Nº1 is at once traditional and modern and the mix is purely infectious. They have since gone on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Live at Couleur Café from 2007, and the band has collaborated with a number of musicians including Bjork on her Volta album.