The Reality Of Konono No. 1
Published Jun 26, 2010Some artists claim not to play music industry games. Then there's Konono No. 1, for whom there are no games, period. It's been five years since the Congolese dance juggernaut sprang to prominence with a sound that combined homemade mettalophones and a car battery powered sound system. So what new sound does Assume Crash Position promise for 2010? Nothing. After all, the group existed for more than 25 years before formally recording anything. Konono remain part social club, part oral historians, and completely enveloped by their immediate surroundings in Kinshasa. World tours to rapturous acclaim aren't going to make their city's electricity, transportation grid and water supply any more reliable.
When asked whether the less distorted sounds of the new disc represented a new approach to production, Augustin, son of group founder Mingiedi, states: "Konono don't play computers, we play music." New songwriting ideas are expressed primarily not through sonics, but lyrics about love, family relations and conflict. Yet Konono continue to evolve subtly. "The records are our children," says Augustin. "The face of your first child won't be the same as your second. We haven't bought any new instruments, but what's changed is that Konono worked with elements from a youth orchestra ― bass guitar, rhythm guitar and a singer." If you have already seen them live, expect intensification, not transformation of their electrified Bazombo traditions. "The music is the same, but when there are big crowds, like in Europe," pronounces Augustin, "it's a super-powered trance."