· A DJ is sampling these electronically adapted sounds from Kinshasa right now.
The search for new listening experiences can lead down interesting corridors. Innovations often occur when performers wrestle with new technology, but with home recording set-ups equivalent to classic studio settings, there is less opportunity to have a happy accident.
Konono No1 existed in Kinshasa for more than 25 years and represents the urban settling of Bazombo tribal tradition. Using call-and-response traditions that have been exported around the planet, the group is assembled around three likembé (thumb piano) players, but the thrill is in the way the nine-piece has adapted to the city. They built amplifiers and percussion from car parts, and perform with megaphones in front of a wall of speakers. You can find similarities to Aphex Twin, Tom Waits and Phil Spector, but Congotronics isnt retro-futurism. Konono No1 initially rejected the distortion in their adaptations, and only recently came to recognize its value as a new element of the group's voice and a tool to be better heard in the urban environment.
"Paradiso" shows the band simply revelling in sound. Its virtually simultaneous dub, as well as legitimate trance. "Ungudi Wele Wele" portrays a busy cityscape more vividly than any words, because it is composed of literal elements of the city. Most of the world cant afford to throw things away, and Konono No1 reflects that reality, both in expression and execution.