"Congotronics 1"
2. Masikulu
3. Kuke Kule
4. Ungudi Wele Wele
5. Paradiso
6. Kule Kule Reprise
7. Mama Liza

Konono N°1's debut album "Congotronics", introduced the world back in 2005 to these strange and spectacular electro-traditional mixtures which are being concocted in the suburbs of Kinshasa, Congo. World music, electronica and avant-rock aficionados have all been equally amazed by this otherworldly music, which has driven the international press to come up with some surprising comparisons (from Can and Krautrock to Jimi Hendrix, Lee Perry and proto-techno!...), and caused Konono to be massively adopted by the alternative rock scene in the US and the UK, where they have become a cult reference for artists and audience alike.
Konono N°1 was founded sometime during the '60s by Mingiedi, a virtuoso of the likembé (the traditional instrument sometimes called “sanza” or “thumb piano”, consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator). The band’s line-up includes three electric likembés (bass, medium and treble), equipped with hand-made microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts, and plugged into amplifiers. There’s also a rhythm section which uses traditional as well as makeshift percussion (pans, pots and car parts), three singers, three dancers and a peculiar sound system including megaphones dating from the colonial period, which they call “lance-voix” (‘voice-throwers’). The members of Konono N°1 come from an area which sits right across the border between Congo and Angola. Their repertoire draws largely on Bazombo trance music, to which they’ve had to incorporate the originally-unwanted distorsions of their sound system.

Prior to the "Congotronics" album,  the band had only been recorded once, in the late 70s, by French ethnomusicologist Bernard Treton as part of an album of urban music from Kinshasa. Crammed Discs producer Vincent Kenis (who later also produced albums by Congolese bands Kasai Allstars and Staff Benda Bilili) had heard that recording at the time, and has kept looking for the band on each of his numerous visits to the Congo during the next 20 years… He ended up locating them, and convinced them to record again.

Worldwide reactions to the album have been exceptional: the band earned a BBC Award for World Music, prestigious publications ranging from Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The New York Times and The Times (UK) enthused about the Konono sound. The band played rock festivals such as Coachella, and Congotronics was quoted among the best records of the year by countless magazines and blogs as well as by artists like Beck, Wilco and… Björk, who ended up inviting them to appear on her new album "Volta", and to perform with her on her 2007 New York shows.

Konono N°1 were nominated for a Grammy with their latest release, the "Live at Couleur Café" album, which came out in Sept 2007.

Konono N°1's Congotronics 1 will now also be released on vinyl, only as part of the limited-edition Congotronics Box Set (which is only available for a limited period from the Crammed online store)

Selected press quotes

Album Of the Month... Unbelievable...  (Mojo, UK)

Somewhere between the motorik Kraut-rock repetition of prime Can, a Brazilian carnival and pre-historic acid house”  (The Word, UK)

A blend of traditional Bazombo folk with gritty sound distortions that would make Jimi Hendrix proud... Dizzying, danceable and frenetic...  (Newsweek, USA)

Ne ressemble à rien de connu dans la sphère des musiques africaines, scène congolaise comprise. Le Konono est une sorte de "sound system D" d'une redoutable efficacité, dont la brutalité sophisitiquée marque durablement la conscience. (Les Inrockuptibles, France)

Un univers sonique hallucinant, qui évoque à la fois le rock d'avant-garde et l'expérimentation électroacoustique. Des univers bien entendu parfaitement étrangers aux musiciens de Konono. (Libération, France)

Post-Colonial Electronica : the band plays curious instruments that resemble children's toys; its cymbals look like smashed hub caps; its sound is harsh and otherworldly. But what really makes "Congotronics", the debut album by the African band Konono No. 1, one of the most startling of recent world-music releases - and drawn comparisons to the German electronic-music pioneers Kraftwerk and the reggae producer Lee Perry - is the amplification system the band has used for the last 30 years. (The New York Times, USA)               

They have as much connection with Einstürzende Neubauten as with Tabu Ley... (...) the frenzy and locomotion of prime '70s Miles or a Krautrock jam ! (The Village Voice, USA)

Once in a while an album comes along which is so insanely wonderful... (All About Jazz, USA)

Every so often there comes a record of such unlikeliness, of such overpowering rhythmic intensity and such majestic indifference to global musical trends that you're knocked sideways. This is one of them. Search where you will in rock and hip-hop, you won’t find a more viscerally exciting album this year (Daily Telegraph, UK)


KONONO NO.1 - Assume Crash Position
Assume Crash Position
KONONO NO.1 - Congotronics 1
Congotronics 1
CONGOTRONICS - Buzz'n'Rumble From The Urb'n'Jungle
Buzz'n'Rumble From The Urb'n'Jungle
KINSHASA 1978 - Kinshasa 1978
Kinshasa 1978