Konono No.1 is a Congolese street band extant for over 25 years now who recently recorded their first album for Belgian label Crammed Discs. Konono was discovered by producer and Congolese music afficionado Vincent Kelis, who recorded their debut Congotronics with a Mac G4 laptop at an outdoor session in the Congo city of Kinshasa.
Konono No.1’s sound is a combination of traditional trance music and contemporary Congolese pop, but what makes their music truly exotic and extraordinary is the homemade amplification that lifts their traditional rhythms into the realm of experimental psychedelia.
Using a collection of homemade and found instrumentation — including three likembe, or thumb pianos, and a variety of percussion including whistles, hubcaps and drums — Konono’s whirling dervish of rhythm is broadcast through a set of homemade microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers and electronics.
Here is the band page on the Crammed Discs website. For a taste of the band in action, check out this amazing video, filmed at a street performance in Congo. Kelis wrote a letter to this blogger offering a little history behind how he discovered the band.
Congotronics is available as an (expensive) import, but the album can easily be had through iTunes, Napster, eMusic or your favorite online music store.
I was a little late to this party, but last month, the online label Hippocamp.net
released a remix compilation of one of my favorite albums, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds
Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds is a reimagining of one of pop’s greatest masterpieces by a collection of electronic artists. The results range from transcendent (”Don’t Talk”) to merely annoying (the 12-minute remix of “Here Today”).
As is to be expected with things such as this, legal pressures forced the sites hosting the album to take it down. It has since found a new home at Banned Music, along with other quasi-illegal remix classics like the Grey Album.