Konono Nº1 performing in May 2007
|Origin||Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Labels||Crammed Discs, Ache Records|
Pauline Mbuka Nsiala
Augustin Mawangu Mingiedi
Konono Nº1 is a musical group from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. They combine three electric likembé (a traditional instrument similar to the mbira) with voices, dancers, and percussion instruments that are made out of items salvaged from a junkyard. The group's amplification equipment is equally rudimentary, including a microphone carved out of wood fitted with a magnet from an automobile alternator and a gigantic horn-shaped amplifier. The group achieved international renown beginning in 2005, with its DIY aesthetic appealing to many fans of rock and electronic music. They played that same year at the Eurockéennes festival in France.
The group's full name, as seen on the banner in its music video, is L'orchestre folklorique T.P. Konono Nº1 de Mingiedi; "T.P." (short for tout puissant, or "all powerful") is an homage to the band of the legendary Congolese musician Franco, which was called TP OK Jazz.
The group was formed in 1966 by Mingiedi Mawangu, a likembé player and truck driver. Mawangu was a member of the Zombo (or Bazombo) ethnic group, whose homeland is in Maquela Ma Zombo, located in Uíge Province of Angola, near the border with DR Congo. For his likembé ensemble, he adapted Zombo ritual music that was originally played by an ensemble of horns made from elephant tusks.
In November 1978, the ensemble called Orchestre Tout Puissant Likembe Konono Nº1 (All-Powerful Likembe Orchestra Konono Nº1) recorded one track, "Mungua-Muanga," for the compilation album Zaire: Musiques Urbaines a Kinshasa. The group has exerted an influence on many other Congolese popular musicians and groups.
The first time Konono Nº1 played outside of Africa was in 2003, when they toured the Netherlands with Dutch band The Ex. Since 2003 The Ex has regularly performed one of their songs live.
Entitled Congotronics, their first album was produced in Kinshasa by Crammed Discs' Vincent Kenis. It was released in 2004, and was welcomed enthusiastically by the international press. Since then the group has achieved some renown in North America, Europe and Japan, and has toured extensively.
Konono Nº1's album Live At Couleur Café was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008.
Konono Nº1 collaborated on "Imagine" for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project along with Seal, P!nk, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Oumou Sangare and others. The song earned the Grammy Award for "Best Pop Collaboration".
In November 2010, Crammed Discs released Tradi-Mods Vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics, a multi-artist album containing interpretations, covers and tributes to the music of Kasai Allstars, Konono Nº1 and other Congotronics bands, recorded by 26 indie rock and electronic musicians, including a.o. Deerhoof, Animal Collective, Andrew Bird, Juana Molina, Shackleton, Megafaun, Aksak Maboul, Mark Ernestus and others.
In 2011, Konono N°1 took part in the Congotronics vs Rockers project, a "superband" including ten Congolese and ten indie rock musicians (also including members of Deerhoof, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Kasai Allstars, Skeletons and Juana Molina), who collaborated to create a common repertoire and performed at 15 major festivals and venues in ten countries.
The group's founder Mingiedi Mawangu stopped touring with the band around 2009, and entrusted his duties as band leader and lead likembe player to his son Augustin Mawangu Mingiedi, who is further developing the sound of Konono's electric thumb piano by using various effect pedals.