Published Apr 17, 2015Mingiedi Mawangu, the Congolese music trailblazer who founded Konono N°1, passed away earlier this week, according to the band. A cause of death has not been given. He was 85 years old.
Mawangu's passing was confirmed by the outfit over Facebook, with the group explaining he died on Wednesday night (April 15) in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mawangu founded the long-running Konono N°1 collective in the 1960s and was key to shaping the "Congotronics" sound. The artist invented an electrified version of a likembe thumb piano by jerry-rigging the instrument with found parts. His inventiveness would lead the band to assembling other homemade instruments. Konono N°1 started using their unique, distorted likembe sounds to perform lengthy, jubilant bazombo-influenced workouts.
Konono N°1 existed for decades before making their debut album, 2004's Congotronics. The album brought them attention from around the world, and led to a few high-profile collaborations. Mawangu and the rest of the group would collaborate with Björk on 2007's Volta, performing on the album's "Earth Intruders," and they would also tour with the Icelandic singer.
They also teamed up with Herbie Hancock on his 2010 LP The Imagine Project, with their cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" nabbing a Grammy for "Best Pop Collaboration."
In addition, Konono N°1 contributed to the Congotronics 2: Buzz'N Rumble From The Urb'n' Jungle compilation, and issued a sophomore collection called Assume Crash Position in 2010.
Though Mawangu was instrumental in much of Konono N°1's career, the band explained that he retired from the road a few years back.
Mawangu is survived by his son Augustin, who continues to play in the group.