Veteran African band Konono N°1 returns to North America this summer in support of their critically acclaimed breakthrough album on Crammed Discs, Congotronics. The tour will cover fifteen cities -- kicking off at the Montreal Jazz Festival on July 7th and includes a stop at New York City’s Central Park SummerStage on July 23rd. Formed in the suburbs of Kinshasa, Congo over 25 years ago, the band gives new meaning to the term do-it-yourself, playing Congolese Bazombo trance music on likembé, or thumb piano, supplemented by traditional percussion instruments. The result is a unique and avant-garde sound, one aptly described by Dusted Magazine as “the best of gritty, pre-funk groove music, Day-Glo popcorn cooking in gasoline, rattling like a machine gun.”
Having recently won BEST NEWCOMERS at the BBC Radio 3 Awards at the Brixton Academy, the group has been capturing the attention of press world wide with their spectacular, one-of-a-kind sound. The US has also taken notice of Konono N°1, and its critics have warmly received their music with enthusiasm and praise. 2005’s break-out debut, Congotronics made its way onto several end-of-year lists including The New York Times, Washington Post, Observer, CMJ New Music Monthly, and The Village Voice’s “Pazz & Jop Poll.” What’s most striking about this recognition is the overwhelming acceptance within the Alternative Rock community. It’s a welcome surprise to see Congotronics appearing on so many “Best of” lists alongside such esteemed acts as Antony & The Johnsons, Animal Collective and Sufjan Stevens.
What really sets Konono N°1 apart is the band’s home-made sound system, built from old car parts, megaphones and discarded amps that creates an absolutely hypnotic sound -- an uneasy marriage of tradition and technology, African rhythms with the texture of punk rock and relentless drive of electronic dance music. Pitchforkmedia.com has said Konono’s music, “deserves a listen by anyone with even the remotest interest in the possibilities of sound,” and The New Yorker states, “The Congolese ensemble Konono N°1 combines indigenous rhythms and instrumentation with Western amplification to make a distorted dance music that’s at once earthy and futuristic.”
The band’s journey and accomplishments since its formation are admirable and inspiring. Their joyful, yet raucous spirit and energy will no doubt motivate dance parties at their shows nationwide. Come and discover the sound that is solely Konono N°1’s.
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