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Konono No.1

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  • Formed: Kinshasa, Congo
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Konono No. 1 combine the spirit of traditional African music with the junk instrument concept and the progressive electronic aspect of modern times. The group's full name is L'Orchestre Folklorique T.P. Konono No. 1 de Mingiedi, T.P. being translated as "all powerful." It is also a tribute to the band of the legendary Congolese musician Franco, which was called T.P.O.K. Jazz. The band was founded by Mawangu Mingiedi, a member of the Zombo or Bazombo ethnic group, whose homeland is located near the Congo border with Angola. Mingiedi was born in Angola in 1933 and moved to Kinshasa in the former Zaire in 1949, and was a longtime taxi and truck driver trying to support a large family of children. He started the band as Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono No. 1 in the mid- to late '70s. Originally they adapted Zombo ritual music played by an ensemble of horns made from elephant tusks. But they switched their signature instruments to the likembe, also called the mbira, kalimba, or sanza, commonly known as the metal reed thumb piano. Their first recording was on the compilation Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa. The first album by Konono No. 1 was recorded and produced by Vincent Kenis, who also worked with Zap Mama, Taraf de Haïdouks, and Koçani Orkestar. The band began to amplify the likembes, starting with low-frequency six-volt radios, then 12-volt radios from cars. Their sound system is built from handmade microphones, old car parts, megaphones. and discarded amps, and they use junked auto pieces and pots and pans as percussion instruments. Now the premier music ambassadors from Congo and suburban Kinshasa, their distortion-laden beat and trance music has set a standard for modern world music. Their debut American release is Congotronics on the Crammed Discs label, and they are one of many similar bands from their homeland on the compilation Congotronics 2: Buzz 'n' Rumble from the Urb 'n' Jungle. The Dutch rock band the Ex covered one of their songs, and the group collaborated with Björk on the song "Earth Intruders" from her studio album Volta. In 2010, the band released Assume Crash Position as part of Crammed Records Congotronics Series.