Konono No. 1
Congotronics

Crammed
2005
B+
Reviewed by: Mike Powell
Reviewed on: 2005-02-23



Posted 02/23/2005 - 12:09:15 PM by clamsy:
 shit, man, just because you're white doesn't mean you can't dig on an african record w/o all going to grad school on it first. it IS just music. but, hey, if you need that empowering contextual fluidity to alleviate your post-colonial guilt, more power to you. middle paragraph is nice, though
 
Posted 02/23/2005 - 12:26:07 PM by mikepowell:
 unfortunately, i go grad school on stuff as a reflex because i'm slightly neurotic and hopelessly detached. all i was trying to convey was this record's unusual connection to similar american/european aesthetics, while still being distinctly 'afircan'- but i'm not saying we're arguing, i just needed an angle. it is just music, and good music at that.
 
Posted 02/23/2005 - 01:02:22 PM by clamsy:
 right on. mostly I am curious, when i see reviews like these, what the members of the band would maybe think about what they are being aesthetically placed with (ie wolf eyes, black dice). i'm not going to be presumptuous enough to assume that they definitely aren't aware of new american noise bands, but really most likely aren't. although I guess that disconnect/connection between (at least implied) "tradition" and apparently unrelated forms of expression happening somewhere else is what you were getting at. taking another look, I can understand how it would be difficult to express that while not stepping on metaphorical toes. sorry to come off dickish
 
Posted 02/23/2005 - 01:28:36 PM by meatbreak:
 How about thinking what Froots or some worldmusic mag might have to say and compare it to? Then maybe splice the reviews together and form the same traditional/modern rhythm/noise aesthetic comments that this band make with their music. You think this band are aware of their origins with this serpentine squall blasting ten foot tall sheets of shit into the back of their heads?
 
Posted 02/23/2005 - 02:25:21 PM by mikepowell:
 meatbreak, i'm not sure i understand what you mean- and i post again here, because this was difficult for me to express, and i love people's opinions on the subject. are you asking if i think konono is aware of wolf eyes? doubt it, which is why i restated the word "accidental" from the liner notes, which is hugely important. i guess it was a dressy way of saying if you're interested in african music, you might like congotronics, but you might also like it if you're into wolf eyes, which certainly isn't true of most african music. i'm really excited and curious to see how a place that writes largely on world music will respond to this record- i'm responding from a particular context (my own tastes) to a particular readership. stylus isn't a "world" music place, but i was hoping to take an approach that would make konono seem interesting and familiar without simply co-opting it, which would be pretty lame, right?
 
Posted 02/23/2005 - 02:56:01 PM by florenz6:
 It is not unusual that a record that comes from a place far away from any musical capitol of the world, leads to an exchange of western-non-western points of view. Mike Powell suceeds in making this record interesting for people who are normally not keen on african groove music. What makes this record really a rewarding experiencing, is a) that it has nothing to do with the mainstream of world music, b) its fascination for distortion c) its trans-cultural trance effect (and for this last thing, yes, really, you have to play it loud!)
 
Posted 03/13/2005 - 02:58:34 PM by meatbreak:
 Mike - I'm saying this is damn good music too. Trancendental even. And that's both mine and your point I feel. That this music has stumbled across two genres and is straddling them, unbeknownst to itself. Konono are the punk rockers of Congolese traditional music and they cannot know it. But we can and i think the review encapsulates that. Now lets all dance!
 
Posted 03/16/2005 - 11:27:31 AM by howardmale:
 Someone asked - what would a world music reviewer have to say about Konono No 1? Well, we're not from another planet. However the review I submitted to the UKs Independent on Sunday went something like this: Konono No1 Congotronics. Crammed Discs Leather tipped thumbs, ancient African percussion and battle-scared twentieth century amps, by some magic alchemy, have ended up producing a sound as compelling as anything you are likely to hear this year. The Republic of Congo's Konono No1 are a twenty five year old outfit, but their sound is as fully 'of the present' as you could imagine, being obliquely reminiscent of Tom Wait's more uptempo experiments in controlled cacophony. Each track is a relentless and unstoppable tumble of circling metallic notes and noises, which combine the feedback distortions of Rock with the sophisticated polyrhythms of Central Africa. This great engine room of a sound, made by three amplified thumb pianos, pots-and-pans percussion, and chanting vocals, is all fed through the dusty valves and wires of the over-taxed technology they have to hand, or have handmade themselves. It is like hearing a junk yard being pushed off a cliff. The only thing is - you want to be in the presence of this music rather than just listening to this CD facsimile - breathing the same dry hot air as its hardworking creators, as they generate this dissonant yet melodic din. But be thankful that at least the energy and spirit of Konono No1's unique spin on Bazombo trance music has been successfully canned for your pleasure with no added artificial ingredients.