Konono Nº1 performing in May 2007
|Origin||Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
Pauline Mbuka Nsiala
|Electric likembé, Lance-voix|
Konono Nº1 is a Grammy-winning musical group from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. They combine three electric likembé (a traditional instrument similar to the mbira) with voices, dancers, and percussion instruments that are made out of items salvaged from a junkyard. The group's amplification equipment is equally rudimentary, including a microphone carved out of wood fitted with a magnet from an automobile alternator and a gigantic horn-shaped amplifier. The group achieved international renown beginning in 2005, with its DIY aesthetic appealing to many fans of rock and electronic music. They played this same year at the Eurockéennes festival in France.
The group's full name, as seen on the banner in its music video, is L'orchestre folklorique T.P. Konono Nº1 de Mingiedi; "T.P." (short for tout puissant, or "all powerful") is an homage to the band of the legendary Congolese musician Franco, which was called T.P. OK Jazz. It was formed by Mawangu Mingiedi, a likembé player and truck driver now in his 70s. Mingiedi is a member of the Zombo (or Bazombo) ethnic group, whose homeland is located near the border with Angola. For his likembé ensemble, he adapted Zombo ritual music that was originally played by an ensemble of horns made from elephant tusks.
Dates for the group's formation vary: Crammed Discs, which released Konono Nº1's Congotronics album in 2005, places the group's formation in the 1960s. The group was in existence at least as early as November 1978, when an ensemble called Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono Nº1 (All-Powerful Likembe Orchestra Konono Nº1) recorded one track, "Mungua-Muanga," for the compilation album Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa. The group has exerted an influence on many other Congolese popular musicians and groups.
The first time Konono Nº1 played outside of Africa was in 2003, when they toured the Netherlands with Dutch band The Ex. Since then the group has achieved some renown in North America and Europe, and has toured both places. Since 2003 The Ex has regularly performed one of their songs live.
In 2006 the band won the Newcomer award from the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music.
Konono Nº1's album Live At Couleur Café was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008.
Konono Nº1 collaborated on "Imagine" for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project along with Seal, P!nk, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Oumou Sangare and others. The song earned the Grammy Award for "Best Pop Collaboration".
In November 2010, Crammed Discs released Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics, a multi-artist album containing interpretations, covers and tributes to the music of Kasai Allstars, Konono Nº1 and other Congotronics bands, recorded by 26 indie rock and electronic musicians, including a.o. Deerhoof, Animal Collective, Andrew Bird, Juana Molina, Shackleton, Megafaun, Aksak Maboul, Mark Ernestus and others.
In 2011, Konono N°1 took part in the Congotronics vs Rockers project, a "superband" including ten Congolese and ten indie rock musicians (also including members of Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Kasai Allstars, Skeletons and Juana Molina), who collaborated to create a common repertoire and performed at 15 major festivals and venues in ten countries.
- Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa, Ocora 559007 (compilation; recorded 1978, released 1987)
- Lubuaku, Terp AS09 (2004)
- Congotronics, Crammed Discs (2004),
- Congotronics 2, Crammed Discs multi-artist album containing one original track by Konono Nº1
- Live at Couleur Café, Crammed Discs (2007)
- Assume Crash Position, Crammed Discs (2010)
- The Congotronics Vinyl Box Set (2010): in 2010, Crammed Discs have released a limited-edition box set containing vinyl versions of Konono Nº1's Congotronics and Assume Crash Position albums, of the Congotronics 2 album, the albums by Kasai Allstars and Staff Benda Bilili, plus assorted bonuses including a 7" single featuring a collaboration between Kasai Allstars and US indie-folk-rock band Akron/Family, as well as videos and mp3s.
- Tradi-Mods vs Rockers (Alternative Takes on Congotronics), Crammed Discs (2010), a multi-artist, double CD containing cover versions, reworks and tributes to the music of Konono N°1 and Kasai Allstars by 26 alternative rock and electronic artists.
- BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, Newcomer, 2006.
- John Kelman (June 21, 2010). "The Imagine Project". All About Jazz. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
- Gehr, Richard, "The 9 Best Moments of All Tomorrow's Parties", Spin, May 10, 2010.
- Bahn, Christopher (2008-11-30). "Various Artists: Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2014-08-30.
- Caspar Llewellyn Smith, "Congotronics vs Rockers – review", The Guardian, July 13, 2011.
- Kevin E. G. Perry, "A New Language In Music: Congotronics vs Rockers Interviewed", The Quietus, July 11, 2011.
- Howard Male, "Congotronics vs Rockers, Barbican - A 19-piece multicultural band inject new life into the Congotronics brand", The Arts Desk, July 12, 2011.
- Tom Breihan, "Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, More Team With Congotronics for Tour, Album. Congotronics Vs. Rockers unites Congolese musicians with indie artists", Pitchfork, March 28, 2011.
- Konono Nº1 at Crammed Discs
- Detailed article
- Review of November 17, 2005 show at SOB's, New York by Andrew Phillips, PopMatters.com, December 9, 2005
- Alexis Petridis, "'Assume crash position' That's how Congo punk-meets-techno band Konono No 1 translate their name. It couldn't be more appropriate", The Guardian, April 4, 2006.
- Review: Konono No. 1, Congotronics, BBC World site. Retrieved April 4, 2005.
- Makeshift and Polished: Konono No. 1. World Cafe from WXPN. National Public Radio.
- Honolulu Advertiser, November 2005 Review.
- Story from NPR Weekend Edition radio program, June 18, 2006
- Konono promotional video, Crammed Discs website.