Classic Albums: Congotronics by Konono Nº1

After last week’s posts I’m going to stay with something a little different and maybe you could call it a bit odd. It’s been awhile since I did an album from Africa so next just has to be the debut album by Konono Nº1 from 2004. Now this could be both some of craziest music and the most creative musicians I’ve included in all of my Classic Albums posts, so far. If you like you songs nice and tame and not totally out there and totally mind blowing music maybe skip this one but if you do like things to get a little bit mad? Here’s one for you for my Wednesday’s post. I guess it’s labeled as world music because it’s African but it slip into electronic music too.

Anyone who’s never heard of these guys before, a little brief intro is OK? What if you live in the Congo of Africa and wanted to make funky dance music but had no means to instrumentals? But you had junkyards full of car parts laying around which you could turn into them! That’s what’s happened here, living in the middle of nowhere before moving the big city these guys build their own instruments out of, yes car parts so they could play their very own dance music. Then they plug it all into huge wall of speakers and started to make they own strange style of dance music.

Mawanga Mingiedi in mid-2000’s

The leader and the man who founded Konono Nº1 did over 25 years before this debut album was Mawanga Mingiedi. He was over 80 years old when he did this album and since then he’s passed away in 2015. So with no way of getting hold of the normal western instrumentals needed to play music so just using what’s at hand. That’s part of what they created on the front of the album cover, even the microphone were hand made too. A likembe instrument, sometimes called sanza or the thumb piano which consisting of metal rod attached to a resonator, with three players doing the bass, medium, treble on these electic likembes. Plus a rhythm section using more tradition and makeshift percussion like more car parts, pots and pans too with three singers as well.

Now my intro to these guys was thought Mojo magazine back in the 2000’s, they did at that time find some great new music but I don’t know about now I don’t buy it alot now. The next year they had a split 12″ with my fave New Zealand band The Dead C on FatCat records. A couple of years after this album Bjork worked with them on her Volta album from 2007. Four more albums followed this release since then, Grammy award nomination for the album Live At Couleur Café from 2008 and in 2010 working with Herbie Hancock too. Then with last years Konono Nº1 Meets Batida, another collaboration this time with Portugal DJ and musician who real name is Pedro Coquenão. Now nothing did top the genius of the Congotronics album but it’s all good and worth having a listen too.

So now once again, I’ve got to ask who else digs Konono Nº1?

Congotronics tracklisting and times:

1. Lufuala Ndonga – 9:27
2. Masikulu – 8:01
3. Kule Kule – 4:33
4. Ungudi Wele Wele – 8:27
5. Paradiso – 7:04
6. Kule Kule Reprise – 3:04
7. Mama Liza – 10:22


All my Classic Albums posts are in that link or they’re all linked below too!

So the idea here is simply for me to write a post about each of my fave albums that I consider total stone cold classics!

Please do leave a reply below and tell me what you think about this album and/or artist or whatever you’d like to say about it?



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