Konono No. 1 – Congotronics

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.

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.

The group’s founder Mingiedi Mawangu stopped touring with the band around 2009, and entrusted his duties as band leader and lead likembe player to his son Augustin Makuntima Mawangu, who is further developing the sound of Konono’s electric thumb piano by using various effect pedals.

Mingiedi Mawangu died on April 15, 2015, aged 85.

Thanks to my pal, Stephen Hopkins, for the link.

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