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Konono No. 1

Biography

Konono No. 1 had been in existence for 25 years when BBC 3 saw fit to nominate them for Best New Artist of the Year in 2005. But you can't blame the BBC for being slow to the uptake -- it took Crammed Discs' vision to boost the group from local notoriety (on the border of the Congo and Angola) to international stardom. The label introduced the group to the indie rock world with the first release in their Congotronics series, which is dedicated to showcasing electrified traditional Congolese music. The group's signature sound stems from their unorthodox linkage of the likembe, a traditional instrument that is essentially a thumb piano (also known as the mbira), to homemade pickups and amplification. The resulting distortion was initially unwelcome, but it has become a part of the scene's signature sound, providing a beautiful corrosion that underlies their hypnotic traditional melodies.
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